Alright, 24 hours have elapsed and I can finally start getting over what happened at Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium last night. I already know where this is going, the Cowboys lost, the world must deeply overreact, judge Tony Romo, and try and understand why our defense is the worst defense to ever play football. While this is happening the world is also forgetting it’s only week 4 and the Cowboys are 2-2… The last time the Dallas Cowboys went 2-2? 2006, where they made the playoffs .
Now listen to me I’m not saying the Cowboys will definitely make the playoffs, they have to work on a few things:
1) Offensive Line Play- We have one of the largest most talented offensive lines in the league. They need to start playing like it, 5 sacks isn’t acceptable.
2) Gunslinging- Tony Romo will make mistakes! Period. Why not let him do it while being the playmaker he is.
3) Offensive Play Calls- Jason Garrett needs to learn a few things still about when to run and pass, it just seems like his play calls are unmethodical.
4) Defensive Dominance- Our defense has been playing well, but they need more big plays, so many big plays that teams are afraid of them. Only then will we be a feared team in the league.
Now that we’ve established what needs to be solidified. I feel confident that I have a solid feel on how the Cowboys are playing and responding to certain situations. So where will they be come January? Lets take a further look…
Week 5 @ KC- There is no way the Cowboys lose to an unimpressive Chiefs team.
Prediction: DAL 31 KC 10
Week 7- BYE
Week 8 Home against Atlanta- This will be a tough game, but the extra preperation time pays off.
Prediction: Dallas 24 ATL 17
Week 9 @ PHI- This is a tough game, and it looks like the Cowboys are gonna battle the Eagles to the bitter end..
Prediction: DAL 17 PHI 20
WEEK 10 @ GB- This is a potential wildcard grabber. I don’t worry about Green Bay, the Cowboys Run to 6-3.
Prediction: DAL 27 GB 21
Week 11 Home against WAS- A tough one but the Cowboys sweep the Redskins.
Prediction DAL 34 WAS 17
Week 12 Home against OAK- Thanksgiving… Need I say More?
Prediction: DAL 31 Oak 10
Week 13 @ NYG- Sorry Guys but we don’t split with New York, another disappointed loss and we’re 8-4.
Prediction: DAL 24 NYG 27
Week 14 @ SD- This game is a tough one, but by now the Cowboys are rolling and the Wildcard is to close to let go. Give us the Win
Prediction: DAL 24 SD 14
Week 15 @ NO- Drew Brees…
Prediction- DAL 20 New Orleans 31
Week 16 @ WAS- Sweep Complete, and they need it. If the Cowboys don’t clinch this week, it’s up to home against PHI again.
Prediction: DAL 35 WAS 24
Week 17 Home against PHI- Cowboys avenge last season, pushing the heavily favored Eagles to 3rd in the NFC East.
Prediction: DAL 37 PHI 16
Now incase you lost count that gives the Cowboys a realistic 11-5 record. The Early bye week gives the Cowboys a chance to regroup and refocus, which pays dividends in the end.
Final Word-The Blame Game
Again for my weekly destruction of over critical fans. Last weeks loss was not Tony Romo’s… No ands, if’s or buts about it. It was a team loss. Communication, Football Knowledge, and Blown Assignments are the factor of that loss. There are 13 more weeks left, and if you want the Cowboys to do well, you better rally behind them. Many of you will bash my predictions, yet they are all generated the same way experts do. You know why you’ll bash them? Because you don’t believe. So get up, shut up, and Support your team. That means you Derek Eagleton!
Did DC Rod Marinelli Have Increased Role in Cowboys Loss at Rams?
The Dallas Cowboys Divisional Round loss at the Los Angeles Rams is still fresh on the minds of their players, staff, and front office. So much so that the team had to fan the flames on a Jason Garrett comment expecting Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan to return. Garrett himself walked back this "report" once Stephen Jones noted it's still too early for any coaching staff changes. The focus will remain on Linehan's post until it's removed or the Cowboys OC is retained, but one coordinator the Cowboys now expect to keep is Rod Marinelli on defense.
Marinelli himself disputed the season-long belief that this was likely his last as the Cowboys defensive coordinator. With Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard not taking any of the three HC positions he interviewed for, Marinelli doesn't have to worry about shuffling his title to accommodate Richard - who called the plays from week one this season anyway.
Rod's title does include his specialty as defensive line coach though, a unit that the Rams dominated with their offensive line to a historic degree. The Rams' season-high 273 rushing yards was provided by both Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson surpassing 100 yards on the ground, the first time in team history they've had two backs reach this mark in a single playoff game.
Rams HC Sean McVay hardly had to reach into his vaunted 'bag of tricks' to expose the Cowboys defense in a way they hadn't been all year, but there was still an element of brilliance in his offensive game plan. It came out after the game that the Rams picked up on the keys the Dallas defensive linemen used to signal stunts and twists before the snap. While this is nothing more than just great scouting yielding an unforeseen advantage, it's left the Cowboys with more than enough time to ponder what went wrong in the Coliseum.
The Rams offensive line knew what the Cowboys defensive line was going to do before the snap on Saturday. https://t.co/oGo6Eiz4av
The answer to this may be nothing other than the coaching questions the Cowboys are already considering. With Richard's interviews in Tampa Bay, Miami, and New York coming at the beginning of the week leading up to game day, it's possible Marinelli had a larger say in the Cowboys preparation on defense.
It was Marinelli's defense that conceded 412 yards to the Rams in 2017 in a loss at AT&T Stadium. Matching him up with McVay leaves a lot to be desired, while Richard helps bridge this gap - something he was seen desperately trying to do on the sideline with a battered Cowboys defense.
As each day of the offseason passes, a change at either coordinator position becomes less likely in Dallas. On offense, the play caller has more than a season's worth of evidence showing the deficiencies of the Cowboys attack. In a league fueled by recency bias however, Marinelli certainly didn't leave his best performance on the field in Los Angeles.
Somewhere in the middle of this is Jason Garrett, safely in place as the head coach that should be personally trying to upgrade his top two assistants however possible. Marinelli signing up for another year makes this hard on defense, though Richard should resume play calling duties next season.
Again, this leaves the onus of the Cowboys improvements for 2019 on the offensive side of the ball, something that'll be realized when the shock of their defense letting them down in the biggest game of the season is gone.
Cowboys Getting Over $30 Million Cap Space from Expiring Dead Money
You may have already heard that the Dallas Cowboys will be flush with salary cap space in 2019, and that's very accurate. A huge portion of it comes from over $30 million in expiring cap penalties, otherwise known as "dead money."
Quick explanation; dead money occurs when a player is released or retires prior to the expiration of their contract. Any guaranteed money, such as the original signing bonus or money converted in a restructuring, that has not yet been paid out according to the contract schedule is accelerated.
For example, when Tony Romo retired after 2016, he still had $19.6 million in guaranteed money owed to him. Dallas chose to split this dead money over two years, and thus had a $10.7 cap penalty in 2017 and $8.9 million last season.
But now Romo's dead money, along with Dez Bryant's and several other players, is coming off the Cowboys' books. The result is a roughly $30 million infusion of salary cap space for 2019.
Here were the major culprits for last year's dead money:
(All cap figures are taken from Spotrac.com)
- QB Tony Romo - $8.9 million
- WR Dez Bryant - $8 million
- DT Cedric Thornton - $2.5 million
- CB Orlando Scandrick - $2.3 million
- CB Nolan Carroll - $2 million
- WR Deonte Thompson - $1.8 million
- DE Benson Mayowa - $1.1 million
- K Dan Bailey - $800 thousand
- TE James Hanna - $750 thousand
Those players alone make up a little over $28 million. Another $4 million or so came from over 30 players with lesser penalties that still added up.
Right now, the Cowboys have only $1.76 million in dead money on their 2019 salary cap. Nearly all of that is the $1.6 million still owed to Orlando Scandrick.
That difference is where the cap space comes from, and it will be of tremendous help to Dallas as they have major financial moves coming. They need to re-sign DeMarcus Lawrence, deal with a major salary bump for Amari Cooper, and consider a contract extension for Dak Prescott.
The 2019 number will change, of course, as the offseason rolls on. If Dallas elects to release players like Sean Lee, Tyrone Crawford, or others, some dead money will appear. But that will be offset by whatever cap savings motivated the move in the first place.
This is a good reminder of why the Cowboys' new era of fiscal conservatism is a good thing. After years of what felt like perpetual "salary cap hell," they are finally getting out from under those penalties and have complete flexibility this offseason. They may not even need to cut a guy like Crawford, who they almost would have been forced to in past seasons.
We'll be talking a lot more about individual players and their contracts in the weeks ahead, but this summary helps us see that Dallas isn't nearly up against the financial wall as they have been. We still miss guys like Romo and Dez, but we won't miss that awful dead money in 2019.
Cowboys Expect C Travis Frederick Back for Offseason Program
Lost in yesterday's hoopla over Scott Linehan's return was a positive report about Center Travis Frederick. In his comments to the media, Jason Garrett said that Frederick's recovery timetable should allow him to a full participant in the team's offseason program.
After never missing a start in his first five years, Travis missed all of 2018 dealing with the effects of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The disease attacked his neurological system and required immediate and intensive treatment.
Jason Garrett says the team anticipates Travis Frederick being involved in the offseason program right from the start this spring if he continues on the same positive track in recovery from Guillain-Barré syndrome. #cowboyswire
While Joe Looney performed admirably in Frederick's absence, he's not an elite talent. Travis has been arguably the best center in the NFL since entering the league in 2013.
It's hard to qualify what effect not having Frederick had on the Cowboys offense in 2018. Ezekiel Elliott still led the league in rushing, but short-yardage plays weren't as automatic as we've seen in past years. A 4th-and-1 stuff was part of what led to the Cowboys' loss this past Saturday.
Dak Prescott was the second-most sacked QB in the NFL in 2018. After being sacked just 25 and 32 times in his first two seasons, the number skyrocketed to 56 sacks.
That's not all on Frederick, of course. Tyron Smith had some health issues and there were was turnover at left guard.
But having your All-Pro veteran center out there to help with the pre-snap reads, and help the rookie guard on his left, might have helped avoid some of those issues.
Indeed, Travis Frederick's return is just one of many reasons for optimism with the 2019 season. One of the best players on the team, he was sorely missed this year and can only help as Dallas looks to build on their division title and playoff appearance.
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