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Dez Bryant’s Catch is Already Old News

Bryson Treece

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Dez Bryant, Packers

I’m sick of hearing about this catch already. We took a day on BST and @CowboysNation to get angry over it and ran into many similar responses. Most of which were from fans of other teams (most notably, the Lions), but there was one shared by head coach Jason Garrett in his post-game press conference.

“We had 3 hours and 60 minutes of football…”

Yes they did, and something like 56 minutes into the game, on 4th and 2, they made a play for the end zone.

All this talk of them having a whole game to score more points makes no sense to me. Are you trying to say that winning isn’t good enough? That it’s only a win if it’s a blowout? Because then you’d have a point. Then, that one catch wouldn’t have mattered.

If the Cowboys had scored more points early, instead of Dan Bailey missing a field goal or DeMarco Murray losing a fumble, then Dez Bryant’s fourth quarter catch wouldn’t have changed the game. It would have still been a bad call and it would have still been the referee’s interfering with the game. And it would have still been a catch. But the game wouldn’t have been won or lost by it.

And yeah, I’ve thought about it, plenty.

Dez didn’t reach the goal line – though he tried hard to reach for it – so there was no score change there. But hey, tape clearly shows the spot of the ball and I’ll take the league’s leading rusher behind the league’s most dominant offensive line for half a yard against a defense that struggled to keep him from getting at least a yard all day. Especially when it’s four-down territory.

I’ll take that because it’s solid gold, pal. No question, the ‘Boys score that touchdown in four tries or less. If Murray was stuffed, then there’s always Bryant for a back shoulder fade and Jason Witten or Cole Beasley across the middle.

That play was a game changer, and thanks to those referees and their interpretation it wasn’t the men making millions of dollars with fans and sponsors making the play, but bureaucratic pencil pushers administrating the game to a false outcome.

Going back a bit, on that 3rd and 1 when Garrett took the timeout and the spot of the ball was reviewed, that was the right call.

Two plays earlier, Witten caught a similar pass for a first down by forward progress, but both were generous spots. The first one was missed, though his butt was on the line to gain when he caught the ball and he was pushed toward the line of scrimmage immediately. But that was a spot error of around inches, no matter how obvious they were.

Then it happens again, only the spot error was by more than a yard – right about 2 actually – and deserved to be challenged and re-spotted. Garrett didn’t make a mistake, the referee’s did. They ended up getting the right call on the field and removed officiating from affecting that play beyond what the players on the field had or had not done.

Getting the call right is as much about accurate accreditation of the player’s performance as it is restricting players to a set of rules evenly and fairly so as to prevent any undue advantages in the game. That’s it.

And for the few fans I’ve heard spouting off about having 4 minutes in the game after Bryant’s catch was taken away…

If my aunt had balls, she’d be my uncle.

Instead of everyone needing to blame the team for not scoring more in the game to feel better about the loss, try accepting that they lost. The Cowboys lost.

Cowboys Headlines - Dez Bryant's Catch is Already Old NewsI’ve watched the clip many times and can see the same thing every time. Dez Bryant caught the ball, tucked it away establishing possession with three feet on the ground and stretched for the goal line in a move common to football when contact with the ground jarred the ball.

I can’t not see that when it’s so clear. I certainly won’t take that catch away from him because of how it turned out. That was a damned good throw and an even better catch when it was needed most. It was clutch.

And that speaks nothing of the rules stating there must be conclusive evidence to overturn the ruling on the field, a burden not hardly met with the reversal. Regardless of anything else, that point is undeniable by anyone looking to do more than just bash America's favorite team to hate.

The Cowboys did what they’re paid to do. It was a close game all afternoon and they found a way to beat the Packers on the road.

What more could you ask from them?

This subject isn’t open to debate, not for me. I'm a fan first, and blog owner second. The trolls who insist on getting rowdy about it are met with an instant block and the rest are easily ignored. Screw who the player is, or the team, or the game, all of it – that man caught the ball as he’s done many times before. End of story.



Nothing gives me greater joy than the experience of being a Dallas Cowboys fan come time to check another victory on the schedule every Sunday. I live Inside the Star everyday and blog on it occasionally, as well. Follow us on Twitter - @InsideTheStarDC

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PFF Ranks Cowboys Run Defense 13th In The NFL

Kevin Brady

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Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith

The Cowboys duo of young linebackers took the NFL by storm in 2018.

Rookie Leighton Vander Esch and former second round pick Jaylon Smith played well above expectations, as for the first time in years Dallas did not face a significant drop off in defensive production when Sean Lee was out and injured.

These young linebackers are the cornerstone of a run defense which should be among the league's best going forward, and Pro Football Focus agrees. Well, somewhat agrees.

PFF ranked all 32 run defenses heading into the 2019 season, slotting the Cowboys 13th overall. Better than half the league, but not quite top 10.

https://twitter.com/PFF_Cowboys/status/1151155572059717632

PFF's reasoning behind this ranking certainly makes sense, as they credit the young linebacker duo without mentioning much of what will be in front of them helping to stop opposing running games.

"The Cowboys’ run defense begins and ends with the league’s best young linebacker duo. Leighton Vander Esch ranked third in run-stop percentage as a rookie while Jaylon Smith checked in at 29th."

The playoff loss in Los Angeles has left a bad taste about the Cowboys' interior defensive line in a lot of mouths, but I do think they've improved the unit this offseason. Signing Christian Covington and drafting Trysten Hill was a nice start to do so, but having Maliek Collins healthy and Antwaun Woods back for a full season will also go a long way.

Interestingly enough, two of the Cowboys divisional foes came in ranked above them on this list. Washington was slotted as the 12th best run defense, while Philadelphia was placed at number 8. Both teams' units deserve respect, of course, but this further highlights how difficult it could be to run the ball in the NFC East this season.

While I hate simply throwing this term around, analytics suggest that passing is what wins games in the NFL. Passing and stopping the pass, I should say.

With strong run defenses in their division, the Cowboys will need to maximize their passing game efficiency if they want to repeat as NFC East champions.



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3 Reasons Amari Cooper is Primed for an All-Pro Season

Matthew Lenix

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3 Reasons Amari Cooper is Primed for an All-Pro Season

Amari Cooper changed life for the entire Dallas Cowboys offense in 2018. Finally, Quarterback Dak Prescott has the number one option at wide receiver he's desperately needed since his rookie campaign. Now, after half a season and multiple playoff games under his belt in Dallas, Cooper is set to have a monster year. Here are three specific reasons why.

1. Culture

Head Coach Jason Garrett has established a certain way of doing things in Dallas since taking over in 2010. His constant search for the RKG or "Right Kinda Guy" as he puts it has the culture in the locker room at a very positive and productive place. As criticized as he is, justifiably or not, he has his team all on the same page. This is something Cooper has been trying to find since he entered the league in 2015. An organization with the right mindset in order for him to perform and maximize his skill set. After being traded to Dallas, Cooper opened up in November about being unhappy during his days in Oakland.

"I wasn't really happy in Oakland or anything like that. But when I sat and thought about it [Monday} night, I thought about the fact that they traded me away. I don't know how to feel about it," Cooper told Yahoo Sports.

This may seem small to others considering these players make millions of dollars right? Well, it doesn't change the fact that they're human. When you feel unappreciated you don't play to the best of your abilities. Shortly after the trade, Cooper talked about how he's been different since putting a star on his helmet. "I feel like it did change me, as far as having that chip on my shoulder. Not that I wasn't passionate before, but playing with more passion, trying to intentionally have fun out there. It definitely has changed me, in terms of me going out there and just having fun with it," Cooper said. A change of scenery was just what the doctor ordered for Cooper and the Cowboys.

2. The other weapons around him

The Cowboys aren't just Amari Cooper or bust at the wide receiver position. Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb provide more challenges for defenses on a weekly basis. Gallup has firmly locked down the number two spot on the depth chart. It took a while for him to establish chemistry with Dak Prescott, as they would misfire on several big plays during the first half of the season. Nonetheless, by seasons end things started to pick up, and he finished with 33 receptions for 507 yards and 2 touchdowns. In the playoffs, he scored a touchdown in the Cowboys Wild Card win over Seattle. The next week against the Rams he performed well even in defeat, with 6 receptions for 119 yards. He's got speed, size, and versatility. Now with a full season and two games of playoff experience under his belt, I look for even more production from Gallup, as a possible breakout star.

Randall Cobb is a much-needed upgrade in the slot for the Cowboys. Unlike former receiver Cole Beasley, Cobb can line up inside or outside. Giving new Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore a bigger bag of tricks at his disposal. Now, he can lineup Cooper inside or outside and play with a plethora of different looks, keeping defenses off balance because of the uncertainty of how the Cowboys will attack through the air.

Then, of course, there's Ezekiel Elliott. The two-time rushing champion is the tone-setter on offense and dictates how defenses will attack. With Cooper being such a threat in the air you basically have to pick your poison. 8-9 man fronts against the run can make you vulnerable to play action down the field or quick slants with Cooper's exceptional route running. The more productive Elliott is the more honest it keeps opposing defenses, opening up more opportunities in the passing game. Averaging 101.2 yards per game for his career, second all-time to Hall of Famer Jim Brown, Elliott can make create even more opportunities for Cooper in 2019 with a full season of playing time together.

3. Motivation

Amari Cooper is currently looking to sign a long-term deal with the Cowboys. Preferably, both sides would like to get this deal done before the season starts considering he's in the last year of his rookie contract that is set to pay him 13.9 million in 2019. However, it isn't just a new deal that motivates Cooper heading into the new season.

"It's kind of a weird situation, just being that I've never been in this situation before, talking about a contract. But also, I'm under a fifth-year option, so I'm not too familiar with it. I really don't ask my agent many questions. I'm not really worried about it that much. I'm more focused on actually playing and really earning the respect and then the contract," Cooper said.

Being motivated by earning respect is a very mature approach from Cooper. Now, add that to the fact that I'm sure he wants to firmly put his name alongside Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham Jr, and Michael Thomas as the best receivers in the game, you have a fully motivated number one option heading into the new season.

Amari Cooper has already made three pro bowls, but now there's another level for him to reach. In just nine games last year with the Cowboys he caught 53 passes for 725 yards and 6 touchdowns. Also, he caught another 13 on 18 targets in the playoffs for 171 yards and a score. He's in the right culture, he has a number of other weapons around him and he has multiple reasons to be motivated heading in the new season. With a full offseason of building chemistry with Dak Prescott, I see Cooper taking that leap to the All-Pro level in 2019.



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Is La’el Collins Playing For A Contract On A Different Team?

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys at Raiders: La'el Collins Faces Toughest Test Yet In Khalil Mack

How good is La'el Collins?

This is a question that Cowboys fans have disagreed on since his rookie season. Collins, who originally joined the team as their left guard replacing an injured Ronald Leary in 2015, moved out to right tackle in 2017, starting all 32 games there the last 2 seasons.

Collins' play has been somewhat up-and-down, as should be expected when a lineman not only switches from guard to tackle, but from the left side to the right side as well. Still, he's been a solid right tackle and a stable presence for a Cowboys offensive line which has struggled with major injuries at other positions over the last couple of years.

While Collins has not been the "elite" level player fans had hoped for when signed after the 2015 draft, he's been a solid player nonetheless. Dak Prescott has faced more pressure from the right side of the line than the left, but a good portion of that pressure has to do with him struggling to sense pressure from that right side.

The Dallas Cowboys seem rather undecided about La'el Collins' future with the team themselves, though. Dallas went out and draft guard Connor McGovern in the third round of the 2019 draft, starting the whirlwind of rumors that McGovern will be the starting left guard in 2020. This would kick second year player Connor Williams out to right tackle, allowing Dallas to let Collins walk without too much worry.

While this is well and good on paper, on the field the transition will likely not be as smooth. We've already seen how tough it is to move from left guard to right tackle in just one offseason, even if you were a college tackle once upon a time. Connor Williams could face these same struggles, despite possibly even anticipating the change a year out.

Regardless, La'el Collins is now in a contract year and is playing for that new deal come 2020. Dallas may not be looking to extend him, mostly due to the plethora of new deals they'll be handing out to other players, but he will be a hot commodity come free agency if and when he hits the open market.

Collins could very well be playing for a new contract elsewhere this season, as his days in Dallas look to be numbered.



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