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How Has Tony Romo Fared Against 2016 Opponents?

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Headlines -  65

The offseason is the perfect time to conduct research and make some discoveries about your favorite team. Normally when you make these discoveries, you want to find some way to relate them to how great your favorite team can be in the upcoming season.

Personally, as a Dallas Cowboys fan, I am a habitual "Kool-Aid" drinker in July. Despite the suspensions, the injury and depth concerns, and the overall problems with the roster, I am all hands on deck and ready for a playoff run.

Because, as a fan, isn't that how you're supposed to act as long as you're within reason?

Last week my quest for Cowboys optimism led me to examine how teams with weaker projected strength of schedules fared during that same season. Not surprisingly the easier your schedule was, the more likely it was for you to win games. Lucky for us, the Cowboys have only the 27th strongest schedule in the NFL this season.

This week, I examined the Cowboys schedule a little closer, looking at how the Cowboys have fared against each team when Tony Romo was at the helm. We all know how important Romo is to this team, so comparing the Cowboys raw overall record against these 16 opponents without controlling for the Romo factor wouldn't show us much at all.

The findings were pretty positive.

Tony Romo only has a regular season losing record against four of this season's opponents.

Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys 2016 Super Bowl Run Starts with Tony Romo 5

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 28: Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates a first down against the New Orleans Saints in the second half at AT&T Stadium on September 28, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Of course he only has a losing record against six teams in the entire league so the odds were that he would be playing teams that he normally beats, but it is still an interesting point to make.

Out of these opponents, the Baltimore Ravens are the only one which he is winless against (0-2). The first loss coming during the final game at Texas Stadium, a game which still kills me to this day, and the second loss coming in 2012 in a 31-29 heartbreaker.

Damn, Jacoby Jones.

Against the other three teams-the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, and Chicago Bears- Romo-led teams are a combined 7-9 (including playoff games against Detroit and Green Bay). Unfortunately, Romo has not beaten the Packers since 2008, though he has recent victories over both the Bears and Lions.

Outside of those 4 teams, and the NFC East, Romo is a combined 11-5 against the Cowboys 2016 opponents.

Cowboys Headlines - Does Wilcox Have a Fighting Chance at FS? 5

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) is introduced before an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins on Monday, October 27, 2014 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Redskins defeated the Cowboys in overtime, 20-17. (AP Photo/James D Smith)

This mark includes a 4-0 record against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a 2-1 record against the San Francisco 49ers, a 2-2 record against the Minnesota Vikings, and 6-2 record against all AFC North teams not named the Ravens.

Then we have the divisional foes, which Romo has owned ever since he got the chance to start in the league. Tony Romo has a winning record of 33-25 against the entire division, including 11-9 against the New York Giants, 11-7 against the Philadelphia Eagles, and 11-9 against the Washington Redskins.

Not too bad if you ask me.

What does this all mean?

Well, to be honest, it might mean absolutely nothing. Projecting how a particular team or player will perform in the next season solely based on past games can often get you into trouble. But, when you look at teams like Tampa Bay and Cleveland, who have never beaten Romo, I do think the historical trend means something. Romo has succeeded against these teams in the past, and for the most part, we should expect him to continue to do so this season.

So here's that glass of Cowboys' Kool-Aid, please enjoy it with me.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick

Jess Haynie

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Devin Smith

The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.

Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:

Jason Bernstein on Twitter

Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back. https://t.co/hCMYoE8fEh

Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.

Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.

The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.

For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!



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DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.

Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.

One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring.

ESPN.com ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.

ig: josinaanderson on Twitter

ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures. https://t.co/aJ7H1n001t

DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.

Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.

Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.



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When it Mattered Most, Cowboys Offensive Line Protected Dak Prescott

John Williams

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All-22 Notes: Connor Williams Stands Out in Wild Card Win

Throughout the 2018 NFL season, one of the major story lines surrounding the Dallas Cowboys was how frequently Dak Prescott was taking sacks. It's an area that the Cowboys will have to look at in the offseason to better protect their franchise quarterback moving forward. In the playoffs, however, Dak Prescott and the offensive line were much better at keeping their prized possession upright than they were in the regular season.

In the regular season, Dak Prescott was sacked 56 times for an average of 3.5 times a game. There was only one game where he wasn't sacked at all, way back in week two against the New York Giants. Four times this season, the Cowboys' quarterback was sacked five or more times. The New Orleans Saints got him for a season high seven times.

According to Pro Football Focus, Dak was "kept clean" -- not pressured -- on 63% of his drop backs during the regular season, which ranked 25th in the NFL. When kept clean, Prescott completed 74.1% of his passes, which was good for 5th in the NFL during the regular season. He was under pressure 37% of the time, which was the sixth highest rate in the NFL and his completion percentage dropped to 52.6%, still good for 10th in the NFL. It was better than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Baker Mayfield.

During the playoffs, Prescott's "kept clean" percentage rose from 63% to 68% and he was only sacked once in each game. The one sack against the Los Angeles Rams probably shouldn't have been called a sack as the referee blew the whistle because Prescott was "in the grasp"...

...of his offensive lineman.

During the playoffs, the Cowboys offensive line kept the pressure off of Prescott at a better rate, allowing him to be pressured on only 31.9% of his drop backs. Meaning he was kept clean at an improved rate from the regular season at 68.1% of his drop backs. This while playing against two teams that are really good at rushing the passer. The Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks both finished in the top half of the league in sacks this season and feature players like Aaron Donald, Jarran Reed, and Frank Clark who all had double-digit sacks.

As we know, pressure rates and sacks aren't all completely on the offensive line. The quarterback, wide receivers, and the play calling all factor in, but the Cowboys are trending in the right direction with their pass protection. A full offseason for Connor Williams in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program, better health for Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and -- fingers crossed -- Travis Frederick, should all help the offensive line play at a higher level heading into the 2019 season.

It can't be overstated how important it will be to get Travis Frederick back into the fold this season. Joe Looney was good, and that might be overstating it a bit. He was not noticeable on most plays during the season, but getting your All-Pro center back will tremendously help the offense in every facet of the game. Frederick's one of the smarter players in the NFL, who helps everyone on the offense to see the blitzes and calls out the protections. Both his mental and physical ability will be a welcomed site when the Cowboys begin practicing in the offseason.

With another year of growth for the quarterback and for the young pieces along the offensive line, and with a full offseason for Dak Prescott to grow with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Blake Jarwin, the Cowboys should be better next season at keeping the quarterback clean.



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