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Don’t Stop Believing: Cowboys Scenarios To Winning NFC East Title

RJ Ochoa

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Cowboys Blog - Don't Stop Believing: Cowboys Scenarios To Winning NFC East Title

The Dallas Cowboys are, through their first six games of the 2015 NFL season, 2-4. That's tough cookies.

There is one goal for this 2015 season - win the Super Bowl.

I'll have you know that this year is actually Super Bowl 50... the golden anniversary of the biggest game in sports.

Some simple math will tell you that means there have been 49 teams who have stood on top of the world, bathed in confetti, raising the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Of those 49 Super Bowl Champion teams... 0 have been 2-4 through their first six games. Zero. Goose egg. Zilch. Nada. None. It has never been done.

Enter the 2015 Dallas Cowboys.

Before I get you all excited let me pump the brakes on this ride a bit. We need to get into the playoffs before we even have a shot at the Super Bowl (duh). I'm here to tell you that the playoffs, even with a 2-4 record, are still well within reach. And everyone knows that to win the Super Bowl, all you need is a ticket to the dance. It doesn't have to be the first or the prettiest, any ticket gets you into the tournament.

"How is this possible? We're 2-4. Feels like we're 0-100. I know that the division is terrible, but what needs to happen for us to win it?"

I'm glad you asked!

This season has really come down to the next five weeks/games. Why these five? Well since you seem to just be full of questions today... the next five games carry the Cowboys through Thanksgiving. After the Cowboys play the Panthers on Turkey Day, they'll get 11 DAYS of rest before heading to Washington for a Monday Night matchup against the Redskins. The locker room after the Panther game is the next checkpoint on the 2015 season. We need to get there in good standing.

Of course there are games that are pivotal after that stretch, but these five in question are what's going to serve as the equalizer to get the Cowboys back in the mix for when the cavalry (a #9-shaped cavalry) returns... Not forgetting Dezzy Bryant either.

That crownie-loving cavalry, aka Tony Romo, is eligible to return in Week 11 against the Miami Dolphins. Now would you stop asking questions and let me drop knowledge on you? Sheesh.

As we enter Week 8 of the 2015 NFL season these are the standings within the NFC East:

  1. New York Giants (4-3)
  2. Washington Redskins (3-4)
  3. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (2-4)

Here are the next five weeks/games for all four of those teams, which will effectively decide this division this year:

Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12
NYG @ NO @ TB NE BYE @ WASH
WASH BYE @ NE NO @ CAR NYG
PHI BYE @ DAL MIA TB @ DET
DAL SEA PHI @ TB @ MIA CAR

Alright so now we've laid out all the puzzle pieces... time to put it together.

We're going to look at this next stretch in three different hypotheticals: Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C.

Plan A: Very Cowboy-friendly. I thought about naming this "pecan pie" because it's what solves all of our problems. Plan A assumes that all the breaks go our way, but it's not overly optimistic expecting the division rivals to lose every game.

Plan B: This is the most reasonable expectation for this stretch. Plan B, aka Ham Sandwich, is assuming that the other division teams win the games that they should AND that the Cowboys win/lose the games they should from a reasonable perspective.

Plan C: Defcon 5. This is break-the-glass-pull-the-fire-alarm type stuff. The good news about Plan C (aka Steamed Broccoli) is that the division crown is still attainable with it. It's just the scariest plan.

Plan A

Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Record After
NYG @NO - L @TB - W NE - L BYE @WASH - L 5-6
WASH BYE @NE - L NO - L @CAR - L NYG - W 4-7
PHI BYE @DAL - L MIA - L TB - W @DET - L 4-7
DAL SEA - L PHI - W @TB - W @MIA - W CAR - L 5-6

"I THOUGHT YOU SAID THAT PLAN A OR PECAN PIE OR WHATEVER YOU CALLED IT MEANT THE COWBOYS DOMINATED THIS STRETCH?"

Dude. It does.

As you can see I have deemed that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the sacrificial lamb of the NFC East as the only wins I gave the Giants and Eagles were against Famous Jameis. The lone Washington win was against New York, a game where we're definitely going to need Kirk Cousins to "like that."

Obviously the Cowboys could surprise against Seattle on Sunday, they sure do get up for games against the Seahawks, but I thought a loss here was reasonable. As was a loss against the Panthers on Thanksgiving. Consider that the Cowboys will have four days rest after a game IN Miami. Remember Thanksgiving last year? No bueno.

The Cowboys would be tied for first in the division at this point with the home stretch ahead of them... with all of their Stars at their disposal. This is a huge victory.

Plan B

Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Record After
NYG @NO - L @TB - W NE - L BYE @WASH - W  6-5
WASH BYE @NE - L NO - W @CAR - L NYG - L  4-7
PHI BYE @DAL - L MIA - W TB - W @DET - L  5-6
DAL SEA - L PHI - W @TB - W @MIA - W CAR - L  5-6

"I don't feel so great about this scenario. We're a game back from first place, and we're tied with the Eagles for second!"

I'm telling you... everything is still a-ok here. To come out of Thanksgiving, with 11 days of rest in front of us, only one game back of the division would be incredible. The stretch after Thanksgiving, when you'll be searching everywhere for my Christmas present, leans a little bit more in the Cowboys favor than anyone else's. More on that later.

You might want to pause for a second here.

We're about to get into Plan C and it's... well it's not pretty. I'll just say that I'd rather have to watch every episode of Pretty Little Liars a thousand times than live this out.

Grab a tub of ice cream and throw a blanket over your head as I unveil this horror. Kind of appropriately since Halloween is this weekend. What are you dressing up as? I was thinking about going as Marty Mc-

"ENOUGH SHOW IT TO US ALREADY!"

Ok, relax. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Record After
NYG @NO - W @TB - W NE - L BYE @WASH - W 7-4
WASH BYE @NE - L NO - W @CAR - L NYG - L 4-7
PHI BYE @DAL - W MIA - W TB - W @DET - L 6-5
DAL SEA - L PHI - L @TB - W @MIA - W CAR - L 4-7

*sobbing*

"I should have just let you tell me about your Halloween costume. Now I've eaten all this ice cream and I hate myself. And you. This is terrible. My poor eyes."

Yea, the G-Men really like Plan C. I cautioned us all against the Giants getting too far ahead during the Cowboys bye week. Thankfully the Eagles managed to beat them two weeks ago or this would be even worse.

A few things about Plan C.

  1. The Redskins are 4-7... as they are in Plans A and B. They are not a good football team and Kirk Cousins should really celebrate what they did last week because that's the end of it. We do not need to worry about them.
  2. Philadelphia beats us at home, I know it sucks. Detroit isn't even a guaranteed loss for them, especially if they don't play like the Philly Sam Bradfords, but even then... they're going to beat the Bucs. The Dolphins should be able to take care of them, but they'll be in the race entering December here.
  3. The Giants are running away with this thing. They've got what could be two cake walks in front of them with New Orleans and Tampa Bay. We need to pull hard for the NFC South these next two weeks. Who dat.

Feeling better? Because I've got something that'll help. It's the schedule for each team after Thanksgiving.

Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17
NYG NYJ @ MIA CAR @ MINN PHI
WASH DAL @ CHI BUF @ PHI @ DAL
PHI @ NE BUF ARI WASH @ NYG
DAL @ WASH @ GB NYJ @ BUF WASH

There's a lot of good news here.

"BUT WE PLAY THE PACKERS IN GREEN BAY! AND THE BILLS IN BUFFALO!"

I'm really going to need you to quit interrupting so I can save the day. Thanks.

Look at the Giants. They've got the Jets, Panthers, Vikings... those are tough games against teams on the rise right now. Not to mention that they play the Eagles. So somebody's got to lose that game. Yay!

Washington might beat the Bears. Maybe.

I would feel bad for Philly if I didn't hate them with every ounce of me. Pats, Bills, Cardinals all in a row... ouchie. After those fun times they'll pancake the Redskins before they have to play the Giants! Someone is going to lose that game! Yay again!

"Not to interrupt or anything, RJ... but I'm with you now. I threw the ice cream away and everything. Bring this damn thing home."

Going to Green Bay and Buffalo is tough, I won't lie to you about that. The good news is that:

  1. This is an EXCEPTIONAL road team.
  2. The Cowboys have a score to settle in Green Bay. No way they are losing that game. Dez might break the single-game yardage AND touchdown records.
  3. The Buffalo Bills are coached by Rex Ryan so you know something is going to go wrong.
  4. Two games against Washington in December sound better than that ice cream you just tossed. Hello, Kirk Cousins. This is Greg Hardy, Randy Gregory, Tyrone Crawford, Demarcus Lawrence, Sean Lee, Rolando McClain, and the rest of Rod Marinelli's fun bunch. We can't wait to give you your Christmas present.

So have some faith, Cowboys Nation! Obviously we're rooting for Plans A, B, and C in that order... but even if Armageddon happens (don't want to cloooose my eyes) everything is going to be ok.

The next five weeks are really important, and specifically the next three. If we can come out of these next 21 days with two wins then we are well on the way to making Plan A a reality.

Get ready for Sunday. Plan A is going into effect and you won't want to miss it.


RJ Ochoa on Fancred

~ Follow RJ Ochoa on Fancred ~

What do YOU think? How realistic do you think Plans A/B/C are? I want to know! Email me your thoughts at Roel.Ochoa.Jr@gmail.com or Tweet to me @rjochoa!

Tell us what you think about "Don’t Stop Believing: Cowboys Scenarios To Winning NFC East Title" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!



I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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5 Comments
  • Don

    You are 100% right on that Chris and he will be resting during the Eagles game. Cleary gets the start.

    • Brian Martin

      Don, Cleary didn’t look too bad playing against Detroit, but is still a big downgrade from Tyron Smith. I’m sure they will give him extra help to protect Prescott’s blindside.

      • Don

        No he didn’t look bad but we know he’s a back up at best. This will be good work for him at Philly. Talk about being thrown to the wolves !!! He’ll definitely need some help and I’m like you if Dak is taking some bad hits pull him..I think they will

        • Brian Martin

          Now we just have to hope they don’t wait too long to pull the starters. That’s the main thing I’ll be watching against Philadelphia. I don’t want to see any of the key starters suffer any kind of injury or setback. I think I’ll probably be on pins and needles until the final seconds click off the clock.

  • Brian Martin

    Seeing Tyron Smith not being to finish the game because of a sprained MCL against Detroit was my worst fear. Luckily, he should be able to recuperate in time for the playoffs.

Star Blog

How Will Safeties Xavier Woods, Kavon Frazier Fit Kris Richard’s Secondary?

Sean Martin

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How Will Safeties Xavier Woods, Kavon Frazier Fit Kris Richard's Secondary?
(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, David Irving's most recent four game suspension is the main story for a Dallas Cowboys team finished with OTAs and mini camp, left only to wait for training camp now. I've chosen to focus on the players that were on the field for the offseason program, that will continue to contend for starting jobs in Oxnard. Standing out from a lackluster group of safeties, for a Kris Richard led secondary that is off to a fast start, are safeties Xavier Woods and Kavon Frazier.

Joined by Jeff Heath, Tyree Robinson, Jameill Showers, and Marqueston Huff, the Cowboys are lacking a dominant force at safety to pair with their young and talented group of cornerbacks. With the likes of Chidobe Awuzie, Byron Jones (the former safety), and Anthony Brown already improving under Richard, the Cowboys hope is that the same will apply to this group of safeties.

It's still entirely too early to know how the Cowboys want to deploy their safeties this season, but the only players that have shown their strengths and weaknesses over any period of time are Heath, Frazier, and Woods. This is sure to cause an uphill battle for the fringe players looking to push this trio of versatile safeties.

Jeff Heath has appeared in 77 games over five seasons with the Cowboys. Frazier and Woods combined? Just 24 games, with 16 of them making up Woods' rookie season a year ago. This makes finding a potential role for both players vital to the Cowboys.

How Will Safeties Xavier Woods, Kavon Frazier Fit Kris Richard's Secondary? 2

Dallas Cowboys S Kavon Frazier (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Safety Kavon Frazier

Working mostly as a special teams player through two seasons in Dallas, Kavon Frazier has patiently awaited his opportunity to spark the Cowboys defense as a sixth round pick of 2016. Doing so in a memorable week 13 win over the Washington Redskins, Frazier earned an increased role as an enforcer on defense.

This is a player whose straight line burst and power is ideal for a ST starter, and when Frazier connects coming downhill on defense, the results can be catastrophic for an opposing offense.  Surely these are traits that will remind Kris Richard even slightly of his Super Bowl winning "Legion of Boom" defenses.

The distinction between Frazier being a part-time player or one maximizing his potential to start deep in the Cowboys secondary is an important one. Limited in coverage, Frazier may be at his best when conceding snaps to another safety on the Cowboys roster with more of an all-around game -- which the Cowboys can only hope Xavier Woods continues to be.

Safety Xavier Woods

Xavier Woods may not have the pure stopping power that Kavon Frazier possesses, but as a fellow sixth-round pick there is more than enough to like about what Woods brought to the Cowboys in 2017 out of Louisiana State. With 14 interceptions and six forced fumbles out of college, Woods slid in the draft enough for the Cowboys to trade up for his services.

The team wasn't cheated out of their investment in Woods last season, giving him the "Byron Jones treatment" as Woods lined up all over the field. It was Richard that came to Dallas and almost immediately moved Byron Jones down to cornerback, seeing a better use of his natural size and skills there.

Doing the same for Woods -- while keeping the natural FS free to react -- should be next up on Richard's offseason to-do list. This is a player with sideline to sideline range, enough athleticism to cover down in the slot, and the functional strength to compete in the box.

Amidst this uncertainty for both Frazier and Woods, early reports out of the Cowboys practices thus far have Jeff Heath specifically matching up against the tight end. This is an ideal role for Heath, and one that could compliment Woods very well.

How Will Safeties Xavier Woods, Kavon Frazier Fit Kris Richard's Secondary? 1

Dallas Cowboys CB Anthony Brown, S Xavier Woods, Jeff Heath

Regardless of where Heath is on the field, Woods should be able to coexist with him as a similarly instinctive safety.

There is also the possibility that both Heath and Woods struggle to handle these "starting" responsibilities, leaving the Cowboys with very little trusted depth at safety. If there is an area Woods needs the most improvement in, it is the angles he takes against the run to consistently make stops, a weakness also potentially mitigated by the Cowboys improved linebacker play (investing the 19th overall pick at the position).

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Between Frazier and Woods, it feels safe to say the Cowboys must find a starter for a secondary that could still achieve great things in 2018. The Cowboys are entering this season with a loaded group of cornerbacks, all capable of making a safety's job relatively easy, especially while learning under Richard.

Such can be the hope for a raw player like Frazier and, in a sense, Xavier Woods. The second-year player in Woods is a great unknown for the Cowboys right now, as he'll remain that way for some time before next month's training camp.

With this, we'll have much more time to sit around and continue pondering what certain position groups will look like once meaningful Cowboys football graciously returns. I've written before that I'm paying close attention to this team's group of wide receivers, and you can add in the secondary players they'll be competing against too.

Tell us what you think about "How Will Safeties Xavier Woods, Kavon Frazier Fit Kris Richard’s Secondary?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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No, Cowboys Shouldn’t Cut David Irving

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys' Pass Rush: Who Will Be QB Sack Leader In 2017?
Jeff Hanisch / USA TODAY Sports

For the past five years, Dallas Cowboys fans have gone through painful offseason stories regarding upcoming suspensions for defensive players. It doesn't matter how much talent the front office is able to find through the Draft, there's always one player that ruins what feels like a successful offseason. This time, for the second consecutive year, David Irving is the player to let Cowboys Nation down.

On Friday it was announced that Irving will serve a four-game suspension after violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

Understandably, a lot of Cowboys' fans want to see Irving released by the franchise that has preached the "Right Kind of Guy" philosophy while failing to establish such a thing. It's disappointing to see such a talented player limiting himself  by not "wanting it" bad enough and by making mistakes like this repeatedly.

However, even if it's a very frustrating situation, the Cowboys shouldn't cut David Irving. 

First of all, Irving's hit against the cap space is pretty minimum and nothing to be concerned at all. After being handed a second-round tender earlier in the year, #95 was set to earn $2.91M during the season. With a four-game suspension ahead of him, that number will be even lower.

We're talking about a guy who in eight games managed to get to the quarterback seven times in 2017 and consistently pressured opposing signal callers. Not to mention he's going to be just 25 years old when the season begins.

For the Cowboys, David Irving has the talent needed to average one sack per game. All of this for less than three million.

Irving has proven by now that he's not worth a long-term extension. That much is clear.  In order to get one of those, a player must prove his availability.

Talking specifically about 2018, though, I'm sure the Cowboys will be better off if they count on Irving for the final 12 games of the season. The team counts with pretty decent depth at the position with Maliek Collins, Datone Jones and Jihad Ward, but Irving has the potential to end the season with double-digit sacks.

The team gains nothing by releasing Irving. The team will not even be "sending a message" if they were to release #95. Maybe if the team had consistently sent this kind of "messages" over the years it would make sense.

However, we know this team sticks with their players and supports them in moments like this. They have done just that with Randy Gregory and it seems like it will pay off soon.

Whether we're mad at Irving's actions or not, the truth is letting him go wouldn't be wise at all. The Cowboys are not paying him big-time money, he's young and he'll be productive on the field when the defense needs him to.

We're talking about a football team that wants to make a run for the Lombardi Trophy. They can't be letting starting-caliber players go just like that. They need all the help they can get and even though his situation is far from ideal, David Irving will play a big role on defense.

Tell me what you think about "No, Cowboys Shouldn’t Cut David Irving" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Should Cowboys Add Another Safety Before Training Camp?

Brian Martin

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Should Cowboys Add Another Safety Before Training Camp?

The Dallas Cowboys are extremely thin at the safety position. Fact. They haven't really brought in anyone to upgrade the position from last season. Fact. I just wanted to point that out because there's a lot of discussion as to whether or not the Cowboys need to add another safety before training camp.

I don't know where you stand on this debate or how I feel about it personally, but it's definitely something that needs to be discussed from the Cowboys end. It is the one position where there is a lot of unknown and inexperienced. If one of their current safeties were to go down with an injury and miss any time, the whole defense would suffer.

As things stand right now, Jeff Heath is the only one who will reprise his starting role on the backend of the Cowboys defense. Behind him are Xavier Woods and Kavon Frazier, but knowing exactly how they fit in at this moment is completely up in the air.

Unfortunately, that's the top three safeties for the Dallas Cowboys heading into the 2018 season. What's even more bothersome is their fourth might be an undrafted rookie, Tyree Robinson. I don't know about you, but I find that very concerning. But, maybe Kris Richard, the defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator, knows something we don't.

Kris Richard

Dallas Cowboys DB Coach Kris Richard

Fortunately, Kris Richard was recently asked if he had any concerns about the safety position on the "Doomsday Podcast" with Matt Mosley and Ed Werder. He said he had "none".

"I'm confident. I feel really good at this point in time and it's because the level of character of our guys," he said. "We're going to get better. That's the deal because our guys are young, focused, I think the hunger's there. I love the look in their eyes. I love how everyone is buying in, is focused and paying attention to detail. It makes a difference when guys care. It makes a difference when each one wants to teach one. We're trying to build something special. We want to be tribe-like. We want to be more than a team."

It certainly sounds like Kris Richard is excited about the Dallas Cowboys current safeties. Of course, he would never just come out and say that this group is terrible or he wished they'd add Earl Thomas another available safety. That's just not how things work. He's here to coach up the guys on the roster and not worry about personnel moves.

I don't know about you, but I know I would feel a lot better if they had one more experienced safety who could come in and compete for a starting job. Maybe someone like Tre Boston or Kenny Vaccaro, who are still unsigned. Maybe make that trade for Earl Thomas? That's a dream that just won't die.

Regardless, the Dallas Cowboys need to do something to address their depth at the safety position. I don't know what their plans are moving forward, but hopefully they have a contingency plan in place. It's just smart business.

Do you think the Dallas Cowboys need to add a safety before training camp?



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