January 11th, 2015 was a long time ago.
That day will forever live in infamy throughout the hearts of Dallas Cowboys fans across the globe. Why is that, you ask? Oh it was just the "Dez Catch" game. Yes... that one.
Last week while I was minding my own business the NFL Network, whom I care for deeply, must have had a big problem with me. Maybe I forgot to get them a Valentine's Day gift, maybe I left the toilet seat up, or maybe they were just having a bad day. Either way they replayed that horror and, because I'm a masochist, I watched the whole thing in its entirety. What's wrong with me?
You would think that the DeMarco Fumble or Dez Catch would be enough to satisfy my pain quota for the day, but I was really looking to scar myself emotionally. Where anyone else would have changed the channel to enjoy otherwise cheerful regularly scheduled programming... I found a new reason to be sad.
And because I'm just a big 'ol ball of joy - I'm going to share it with you. Cheers.
It's hard to find an NFL player who faced more scrutiny throughout the 2015 NFL season than Eddie Darwin Lacy Jr..
Sidebar: HIS MIDDLE NAME IS DARWIN?! How awesome is that???
In his third year out of the University of Alabama, the star running back for the storied Green Bay Packers had a low production season and met some harsh criticism for his overweight physique.
Thanksgiving was but four days away when Eddie Lacy had his first 100-yard game of the season. Darwin - I can call him that, right? - had exactly 100 yards against the Vikings on November 22nd so he barely made this weigh in.
It looked things were trending upward when, in a Packer loss, Lacy put up 105 yards on Turkey Day to record back-to-back games worthy of a Benjamin. It was when the Packers visited Detroit on a Thursday Night in December that things got really crazy:
- Aaron Rodgers threw what everyone in the world thinks was the first Hail Mary ever.
- Eddie Lacy ran for 4 yards on 5 carries. I'd have you double check the math on that but we, like everyone else regarding Aaron's Hail Mary, need to move on.
So up until this point Lacy did have two 100-yard games to his 2015 name, but he also had four with 10 or fewer yards. Fantasy experts near and far were past the point of caution with Eddie. He sucked. He was terrible. He was no good. Good thing for Eddie is he had a date with the Dallas Cowboys up next.
Why was that a good thing? Eddie loves the Cowboys. He's particularly good against them. Just how good, though?
I'm going to jump ahead in time. We're now past Eddie's date with the Cowboys (24 carries for 124 yards and a touchdown in case you were wondering...) and we're at today. The sad day.
Eddie Lacy has played 51 career games (Playoffs are included in all statistics here, FYI). In those games he has amassed 3,482 yards. Some simple math tell us that comes out to 68.27 yards per game. That's not exactly a Hall of Fame type average which helps to explain the flack that Lacy took all season. If you thought that this was the "sad" part of things then you are in for quite a doozy.
Here are three "random" Eddie Lacy games:
These aren't just three random games. These are the three times in Eddie Lacy's career that he's played the Dallas Cowboys.
Right about now you're probably thinking, "Ok well this isn't too bad. RJ said I'd be sad. I'm only just a little bummed. Whatever. I want tacos for lunch!" Don't get any hot sauce because I've got some for you, pal.
Eddie Lacy has played 48 career games against teams that are not the Dallas Cowboys. In those games he has carried the ball 738 times for 3,116 yards. That's 4.22 yards per carry. That means Eddie Lacy averages a full YARD AND A HALF more against the Dallas Cowboys than literally every other team he's played in his career.
3,116 yards sliced 48 ways (one for each game not against the Cowboys) yields 64.92 yards per game. Let this really sink in... Eddie Lacy averages 64.92 yards per game when he's not playing against the Cowboys.
What about when he is? Well the original Darwin preached survival of the fittest and Eddie certainly survives against Dallas. In a hat trick of matchups against the 'Boys Eddie's churned out 366 yards on the ground. That only comes out to 122 yards per game every time Eddie Lacy plays against the Dallas Cowboys!
Feeling sad yet?
|Eddie Lacy Versus:||Yards/Carry||Yards/Game|
I'm going to give you a moment to reflect. Take your time.
You ok? Need a tissue for all those tears? It's ok, I'm here for you! (I hope you got tacos for me, by the way).
Eddie Lacy, shockingly, averages 35.55% more yards per carry and an astonishing 87.92% more yards per game versus the Dallas Cowboys specifically than he does versus the entire field. Welcome to Sadtown, population is you and me. (Oh and the Dallas Cowboys Defense apparently...).
Lacy has had 100 or more yards 11 times in his career. Three of them, a poetic 27.27%, have been against America's Team.
Please allow me to remind you that all of these... are facts. Numbers. Data. Indisputable evidence.
The Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers will square off at Lambeau Field in 2016. If history is any indicator then you need to have Eddie Lacy in your fantasy football lineups that day. You'll be thankful you did because Eddie Lacy owns the Dallas Cowboys. Ugh.
What do you make of this data? Does Eddie Lacy really own the Dallas Cowboys or is this an insane streak of coincidences? Let me know! Comment below, Email me at RJ@RJOchoaShow.com, or Tweet to me at @rjochoa!
Could NY Giants Be a Surprise Threat in the NFC East?
The NFC East is a wild, wild division. Since 2004, the division that hosts some of the most popular franchises in the NFL hasn't seen the same team winning the NFC East title two years in a row. It's crazy! Who expected the Dallas Cowboys to become the #1 seed in the conference in 2016 after seeing Tony Romo go down during the preseason? Who was able to predict the Philadelphia Eagles' amazing run for the Super Bowl last year?
It's an unpredictable league, but the NFC East side of things can really amaze you on a yearly basis.
Heading into 2018, it all seems to be about the Eagles and the Cowboys. Being the last two teams to win the title, it's only logical to expect them to be the only teams in the division that have what it takes to own the NFC East crown.
But maybe, just maybe, we are overlooking the New York Giants.
Coming from a 3-13 record in 2017, the Giants have quite a bit to prove if they want to become a winning team once again and return to playoff contention. With Odell Beckham missing most of the season and with good ol' Ben McAdoo calling the shots, the team was never able to get a break.
Listen, we all know Eli Manning has been struggling lately. Many thought the Giants should've drafted a quarterback when they held the #2 overall pick back in April. But whether we like it or not, New York seems to have a plan: take advantage of Manning's last years on the field.
Instead of taking a young QB for the future, they drafted the best player available to take the load off Manning's shoulders. Saquon Barkley will probably be able to do what Ezekiel Elliott was able to do in 2016: lead the offense by running the football 20 times a game and have several 100-yard performances.
Not only that, but the front office did make an effort to re-build a disastrous offensive line by bringing in a talented left tackle in Nate Solder and by stealing the UTEP product, Will Hernandez in the second round of the draft. If the Giants are able to finally groom Ereck Flowers into a decent starter at right tackle, this could be a pretty solid offensive line.
Of course, Manning will not only be benefited from the running game, but his superstar wide receiver will be back on the field. Beckham is one of the NFL's best wide receivers and will surely be back at terrifying opposing secondaries week in and week out.
The Giants are bringing in Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher, who did a nice job for the Arizona Cardinals' defense over the last few years. With some talented defensive players, the team might not have the best squad in the league, but it doesn't seem like a defense that will struggle throughout the season.
Last but not least, the Giants will have a new head coach in form of Pat Shurmur. He's had some success in the league, lately as an offensive coordinator for a Minnesota Vikings team that managed to get to the NFC Championship with Case Keenum at QB. It was a good hire for the team, and I'm pretty sure it will be easy to do a better job than McAdoo's work with the Giants.
If I was to make a prediction, I'd say the Giants will have a handful of wins in 2018. However, I don't see them getting back into the postseason just yet. An 8-8 record sounds about right. Having said that, though, it really seems like a team that could surprise everyone and emerge as a surprise contender in the NFC East.
Do you think the New York Giants could be a surprise threat in 2018?
Where Cowboys CB Marquez White Fits In 2018
In the 2017 NFL Draft the Dallas Cowboys selected four new defensive backs, three of which saw significant playing time during their rookie season.
Those three, of course, are Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, and Xavier Woods. That fourth defensive back, however, should not be forgotten about as we enter the beginning stages of the 2018 season. That player is former Florida State cornerback Marquez White.
Rather than playing alongside his rookie counterparts in the secondary, White spent time on the Cowboys practice squad in 2017. The former sixth round pick was signed to a futures contract at the end of 2017, however, and now has a chance to compete in camp once again.
Entering their sophomore seasons the starting secondary already appears to be taking shape. Chidobe Awuzie and Byron Jones are just about locked in to the outside cornerback jobs, Xavier Woods is expected to start at safety beside Jeff Heath, and Jourdan Lewis is battling with now third year player Anthony Brown for the slot corner role.
So where does Marquez White fit into all of this?
Well, the aforementioned players are locks to make the 53-man roster, but Marquez White should be the favorite to win the 5th cornerback spot going forward. White's raw talent is undeniable, and he has the ability to play under both man and zone responsibilities.
The main reason we should be optimistic about Marquez White's chances to land on the final roster, however, is his athletic profile. At 6'0" tall, just under 200 pounds, and long arms White fits the mold for what new secondary coach and passing game coordinator Kris Richard tends to look for in his cornerbacks.
And, for better or for worse, Richard clearly values these measureables highly. This is evident in how second year corner Jourdan Lewis has been used thus far in mini camp and offseason activities; being relegated to second team and the slot rather than allowed to compete for an outside cornerback job with Awuzie and Jones.
So with the arrival of Kris Richard, the departure of Orlando Scandrick, the underwhelming play of Anthony Brown, and the raw talent he already possesses, Marquez White has a very strong chance of making the final 53-man roster in Dallas.
Can Jaylon Smith Challenge Vander Esch For Starting MIKE Role?
When the Dallas Cowboys selected Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch with their first round pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, the whole world basically assumed he would be the starting MIKE linebacker week one of the upcoming season.
After all, the Cowboys lost Anthony Hitchens to free agency and none of the injury replacements had much success during the 2017 season.
Now just a couple of months shy of that week one match up with the Carolina Panthers, a battle for that middle linebacker spot appears to be occurring.
Former 2016 second round pick Jaylon Smith has seemed to find his health, and his movement skills and agility look like they did back when he was at Notre Dame. Whether or not these offseason hype videos will actually mean anything on the field remains to be seen, but just the fact that Smith is working out and playing without the knee brace is obviously a good sign.
Unlike Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith did play for the Dallas Cowboys a year ago. Sure Smith had his share of growing pains, but he seemed to find his groove late in the season. It probably isn't a coincidence, though, that Smith's best games came when coming off the bench in a limited role and when playing beside veteran Sean Lee.
During the offseason activity thus far Jaylon Smith has gotten the majority of snaps at middle linebacker, but Vander Esch has also been sidelined with an injured ankle. Leighton Vander Esch clearly fits the mold of a MIKE both physically and athletically, but at his best Jaylon Smith does as well.
Despite the resurgence of Jaylon Smith and the injury to Leighton Vander Esch, I still do expect Vander Esch to snag that MIKE role moving forward. While showing glimpses of productive play, Smith did not impress enough to earn him the unquestioned starting job last season, and may best fit as a SAM backer and situational pass rusher/blitzer in the current scheme.
Allowing Jaylon Smith to conserve his energy and provide a boost off the bench is the best way for the Cowboys to structure their defense. Of course, this is only true as long as Vander Esch becomes the player they expect him to be, though.
If Jaylon Smith does return to the player he was at Notre Dame prior to his horrific injury, the Cowboys will possess three incredibly rangy, athletic, and talented linebackers on their roster.
Of course, that if is a very big if at this point, however.
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