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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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Malik McDowell Is Well Worth The Risk For The Dallas Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Malik McDowell, Michigan State

The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly brining defensive lineman Malik McDowell into The Star this week for a visit, as they decide whether or not to potentially sign him for the 2019 season.

McDowell is a former second round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, who fell to day two because of what scouts call "off the field" or "character" concerns. McDowell did not last long with Seahawks, as he was released in 2017 following an ATV accident in which he reportedly suffered "extensive brain and eye trauma" according to Charles Robinson.

None of us know much about who Malik McDowell is as a person, or what concerns their really should be with his health. But what I do know is that on tape at Michigan State, McDowell was a top 5-10 player in the 2017 draft class. He was a stud, and has the traits to continue to be a stud in the NFL.

2017 NFL Draft: Scouting Michigan State DL Malik McDowell - Slant Sports

The 2017 NFL Draft is chock full of talented, athletic, and productive defensive linemen. While most of the draft pundits have focused on EDGE rushers thus far, the defensive tackle class also possesses some of this year's top NFL prospects. Arguably the best of those defensive tackles is Michigan State's Malik McDowell.

Back in 2017 I wrote a full scouting report on McDowell, detailing why he earned such a high grade on my board. McDowell is a versatile linemen who is explosive off the ball, powerful and rangy against the run, and a skilled pass rusher who plays with a high motor. What more could you really ask for?

"McDowell is a patient pass rusher at times, setting up the blocker how he likes and then beating them with ease. McDowell’s ability to swipe hands off helps him greatly, but his quick swim is his most effective pass rush move.

On this play he uses that swim to perfection, forcing the center to power down to the right before swimming back to the other side."

nfldraft malik mcdowell 3

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

When the Spartans went to a three man pass rushing front, McDowell moved to the EDGE often and made plays with his quick, active hands and impressive swim move. He was much more impressive on the interior, however, and could be a direct replacement for David Irving as an explosive and powerful 3-technique for the Cowboys.

nfldraft malik mcdowell 4

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

I love that the Cowboys are bringing McDowell in for a free agent visit. His price will likely be low, as he is yet to play in an NFL game over the last two years, but his ceiling remains very high if he is healthy. It's rare for a player with his college production, natural ability, and measurables to completely fail in the NFL.

Maybe all McDowell needs is a second chance to get his head right and prove that he belongs in the league. Maybe he flames out quickly and can't get on the field due to "off the field" stuff. Or, maybe he simply isn't healthy enough to contribute as an NFL player. Regardless, for the price he'll likely command, McDowell is well worth the risk if the Cowboys are willing to take it.



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Though Not A Direct Beasley Replacement, Randall Cobb Would Bring Value To Cowboys’ Offense

Kevin Brady

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Not A Direct Beasley Replacement, Randall Cobb Would Bring Value To Cowboys' Offense

When the news broke Monday that veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb was visiting the Dallas Cowboys, most immediately assumed he would be a logical replacement for the departed Cole Beasley.

When you take a look at the film and each of their skillsets, however, you quickly see this is likely not the case.

While Cobb would be able to play in the slot as a receiver for the Cowboys if he signs, his value extends much further than just a slot receiver. Where Beasley makes his mark with precise route running, short area quickness, and 3rd down reliability, Cobb is much more of a threat after the catch. He's not the route runner that Beasley is, and really isn't an upgrade over Beasley as a receiver, but Cobb would be able to help the Cowboys' become more diverse in their offensive schemes.

Similar to Tavon Austin, Randall Cobb can be used in pre snap motion and jet-sweep packages, as well as a traditional running back. A college quarterback, Cobb's versatility is what makes him so attractive to NFL teams. Cobb would actually fit more of the Lance Dunbar "scat back" role of sorts for the Cowboys than that of the Cole Beasley slot receiver role. His versatility, however, allows him to carve out a lane within the offense which they haven't quite had before.

Another area Cobb could help the Cowboys is when the play breaks down. With experience in the Packers offense playing with arguably the greatest improviser we've ever seen in Aaron Rodgers, Cobb would be able to help Dak Prescott down the field when he breaks the pocket and the play is off schedule.

So often last season we talked about how the Cowboys offense is reliant on remaining on schedule, staying in front of the chains and not having to force the ball downfield. Unleashing the Mississippi State version of Dak Prescott, where he can improvise and use his legs to create big plays, tends to be when this offense is at its best, however.

Randall Cobb won't be a Pro Bowler if the Cowboys sign him, and depending on the money he receives, it might not even be a lock that he makes the final roster. But Cobb would be an exciting addition to a Cowboys offense which has lacked "creativity" over the last few seasons, and is looking to reinvent themselves to a certain extent.

A receiving corps headlined by Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, with versatile weapons such as Cobb and Tavon Austin behind them, is a pretty good one to head into draft day with.

Signing Cobb would keep the Cowboys from "needing" to take a wide receiver early in the draft, and would allow them to easily shed Allen Hurns if a receiving weapon did fall to them at 58th overall.



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Should Cowboys Inquire About Trading for 49ers DL Solomon Thomas?

Brian Martin

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Should Cowboys Inquire About Trading for 49ers DL Solomon Thomas? 1

When it comes to making trades, the Dallas Cowboys are typically the buyer and not the seller. They proved that last season when they acquired Tavon Austin, Jamize Olawale, and Jihad Ward via trade and could be looking do the same once again this offseason. That's why today I want to talk about the Cowboys putting in a call to the San Francisco 49ers to inquire about potentially trading for Solomon Thomas.

New 49ers Defensive Line Coach Kris Kocurek is rumored to be evaluating Solomon Thomas' film in order to determine his fit and future with the organization moving forward. This is no easy task. In his two years in the league they've tried Thomas at DE and DT, but unfortunately the former No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft has yet to find his footing at either position.

Being a man without a position doesn't bode well for Solomon Thomas, especially after the 49ers acquired Defensive End Dee Ford from the Kansas City Chiefs last week via trade. The 49ers are suddenly stacked along the defensive line. That's not all though, things could actually get worse for Thomas.

To further complicate matters, the 49ers could use their second overall pick in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft on the either Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams. If that's what indeed happens, someone is going to be the odd man out. If you haven't guessed it yet, I think that player could be Solomon Thomas.

Solomon Thomas

San Francisco 49ers DL Solomon Thomas

As a former high first-round draft pick, Thomas would count $7,678,468 against the salary cap in 2019 and $8,958,213 in 2020. That's probably more than the 49ers want to pay for a rotational/backup defensive lineman. And cutting him this season would create $16.6 million in dead money, so a trade is the logical solution.

With all that in mind, it wouldn't surprise me if San Francisco put Solomon Thomas on the trade block any day now. He is only two years into his four-year rookie deal and comes with a fifth-year option as a former first-round draft pick. That means if a team does trade for him they have him under contract for essentially three more years.

If you add all of this up, it makes a lot of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. They need defensive line help and Solomon Thomas needs a fresh start. The Cowboys would get a young versatile defensive lineman and the 49ers get to dump his contract while also receiving some compensation in return. It's a win-win for all parties concerned.

I know what you're thinking though. What would the Cowboys have to give up in the trade? Well, it might not be as much as you think.

Fortunately, Thomas' failure to make an impact his first two years in the NFL favor the buyer, in this case the Dallas Cowboys. He has only four career quarterback sacks, three of which came in his rookie season. Stats of course don't always tell the entire story, but game film does. Unfortunately for Thomas, he can't escape his poor play.

I believe it wouldn't take more than a 2019 fourth-round draft pick to get Solomon Thomas away from the 49ers. Remember, just last season the New England Patriots sent a third-round draft pick to San Francisco and received Offensive Tackle Trent Brown and the fifth-round pick in return. Brown was a more proven player and was in the last year of his contract.

I don't know about you, but I kind of like the idea of Solomon Thomas in a Dallas Cowboys uniform. If anybody can tap into his potential, Rod Marinelli can. Giving up a 2019 fourth-round pick is well worth the gamble in my opinion.

Do you think the Cowboys should inquire about trading for Solomon Thomas?



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