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!
What Are Realistic Expectations for Cowboys LB Sean Lee?
For many years, Linebacker Sean Lee has been the face of the Dallas Cowboys defense. However, that's quickly changing. The young duo consisting of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch have taken over the linebacker position by dominating the field from sideline to sideline with their explosive talent. As a rookie, Vander Esch filled in for Lee at the weak linebacker position when the veteran went down injured and never gave the job back.
Currently, uncertainty surrounds Sean Lee, who took a pay cut earlier in the year to stay with the franchise he's played for since the beginning of his professional career in 2010. What will his role be in a young fueled defense in the upcoming season?
As we've all been able to see throughout his career, Sean Lee is one of the best in the game when he's healthy. Unfortunately, that's not very often. His injury proneness led him to a position change years ago, when he was moved from the MIKE (middle linebacker) to the WILL (weak side linebacker) position. Now, those two spots are taken care of.
Where does this leaves Lee? The main question is whether or not he'll move to the strong side. Many question if this would be the correct call, given that he could be at even more risk of suffering yet another injury in a position that leads to more contact. The other option would be for him to be Vander Esch's backup at WILL.
Lately, it seems like the Cowboys will indeed move him to the strong-side. After all, it only makes sense to have your best three players on the field at the same time. On minicamp, the Cowboys have been playing the veteran at SAM, letting him get reps and grow comfortable in what seems to be his new job.
But even if Sean Lee starts lining up on the strong side, what can we expect from him next season? The way the NFL offenses operate now leads to teams sending their nickel packages to the field more often than not. For the Cowboys 4-3 defense, that means three cornerbacks, two linebackers. When that's the case, it will be Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith who we see out there, not Lee.
Damien Wilson was the team's "starter" on the strong side, and he only managed to get 286 snaps, according to Pro Football Reference. That represents 28% of the team's total snaps. Even if Sean Lee becomes the starting strong side linebacker, we likely won't be seeing him as much.
Even still, I'd expect Sean Lee's experience to play a big factor when the team needs Jaylon Smith or Leighton Vander Esch to catch their breath. Lee could jump in and play a few snaps at any LB spot and do a good job at it.
After all, we can't forget that despite his injuries, Lee is a remarkable player on defense. He should still be one of the smartest linebackers with extraordinary instincts. There's a reason why, before Vander Esch arrived to America's Team, the defense crumbled without him. Last year, despite losing the starting gig, Lee still had 118 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and an interception. The longtime veteran can still play.
It will be odd for Cowboys Nation to watch Lee on a completely new role. It's also hard to put the finger on what his production will look like at the end of the year. If there's one thing we know though, is that the veteran will work hard every practice trying to get the most playing time he can. We should be excited about the team's top three linebackers.
Dak Prescott Impresses, Draws Compliments All Minicamp Long
Dak Prescott stood before the media Thursday in a Stetson Cowboy hat, answering questions about his upcoming contract extension.
“I’ve got my cowboy hat on, so I’m a Cowboy, we’ll say that.”
Prescott has cemented himself as the franchise quarterback of America's Team, and now it's time for the franchise to pay him like it. Set to earn roughly $34 million per year (according to recent rumors/reports), Prescott is going to be a very rich and comfortable man in the near future.
But, for now, he still plays under his fourth round rookie contract. You wouldn't be able to tell by watching him on the field, however. Though it was just minicamp, Prescott was impressive as ever over the last couple weeks of practice, earning praise from all levels within the organization.
Veteran Jason Witten complimented both Prescott's anticipation and accuracy, saying his throws have been "off the charts" at minicamp. Prescott himself said that this is the best he's felt since he's entered the league, and it certainly makes sense for this to be the case.
"Is it three years under my belt or just seeing defenses a whole lot more clear, being quicker and faster in everything I want to do, having great teammates around me? Who really knows the answer, but I feel great. I feel confident, and my teammates do, as well.” - Prescott to DallasCowboys.com
If Prescott was ever going to be comfortable, hungry, and ready to go, this is likely the time that it would happen. He has three relatively successful seasons under his belt, and ended 2018 on the best stretch of his career. He is the unquestioned starting quarterback for this team, and has the backing of every key decision maker in the building.
Prescott now has an offensive coordinator who he has not only worked closely with (in some capacity) since he entered the league in 2016, but is also being lauded for his creativity as an offensive mastermind. His quarterbacks coach, Jon Kitna, has been receiving similar praise for how he can coach up Prescott and get his footwork consistent, to help him "throw it through a Fruit Loop."
The time is now for Dak Prescott, and it's encouraging to see how he is responding to this increased pressure and responsibility. Then again we should have no doubt that he will respond positively, as he as throughout his entire young career.
Whenever faced with adversity, Prescott has answered the bell. Now he has all the supporters he needs, and just needs to prove them right.
Does RB Ezekiel Elliott Have A Chance At NFL MVP?
Who is the Cowboys best player?
As a running back, it's quite possible that Elliott is both the best of that bunch and the least important to the team's overall success. NFL.com's Adam Schein disagrees with the latter statement, however, placing Ezekiel Elliott among his top ten contenders for 2019 NFL MVP.
"I think the Cowboys are going to challenge for the Super Bowl in 2019 -- and I think Zeke fuels this team. When Elliott runs for 95-plus yards, the Cowboys are 19-4; when he falls below that benchmark, they're 9-8." - Adam Schein
Schein's prediction will no doubt make Cowboys Nation swoon, but does Elliott really have the opportunity to compete for an MVP award?
For one, this would require the Cowboys be among the best teams in the league this season. It's quite possible, as they did win 10 regular season and 1 playoff game a year ago, but it will have to happen once again for Elliott to be considered.
Next, Ezekiel Elliott would have to put up incredible numbers. Well, it's safe to assume this will likely be the case if condition one is met. Elliott is going to get a lot of opportunities to touch the ball each game, and finding himself among the league's rushing leaders has never been an issue for the young running back. Especially if the team has a lead and is running the ball to kill clock.
Even if both these conditions prove true, though, Elliott will still have trouble getting himself in the real MVP discussion. These awards tend to go to certain positions, and running back is not among that list. If Dallas has such a successful 2019, and their offense is clicking, it's more likely Dak Prescott will be the one contending for that MVP honor.
I know to some it sounds crazy, but Prescott will likely need to be closer to MVP level than Elliott if the Cowboys are to contend in the way Adam Schein suggests in his article.
So, likely, Schein should have named Prescott among his top ten MVP contenders, not Elliott.
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