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How Important Are 2016’s First 4 Games For The Dallas Cowboys?

Football is a game of four quarters, save for the occasional overtime thriller. A football season can be looked at through a similar lens. As there are 16 games in a season, that means that there are four quarters with four games apiece. Yay math! The Dallas Cowboys have handicapped themselves for the first quarter of the season with two of their star defensive players suspended for them.

RJ Ochoa



Cowboys Headlines - The Importance Of The First 4 Games Of The 2016 Dallas Cowboys Season 1

Football is a game of four quarters, save for the occasional overtime thriller.

A football season can be looked at through a similar lens. As there are 16 games in a season, that means that there are four quarters with four games apiece. Yay math!

The Dallas Cowboys have handicapped themselves for the first quarter of the season with two of their star defensive players suspended for them. No, that isn't a line from a year ago. This isn't deja vu. It's the same story, just a different year. 365 days ago we were preparing for a first quarter sans Rolando McClain and Greg Hardy. This time around it's Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence. Hooray.

Two years ago after the first quarter finale, an emphatic win at home over the New Orleans Saints, Jason Witten said that the goal was to win each quarter of the season. Winning is defined as going at least 3-1, 4-0 is winning with style. That year the Cowboys won the first two quarters, drew the second, and won the fourth in style. Last year? Dallas barely drew the first quarter and lost the final three.

How The 1st Quarter Relates To A Playoff Berth

How important are these "quarters" though, really? As discussed the Cowboys will be down two men to start, but with eyes set on the playoffs will that really make a difference?

Cowboys Headlines - The Importance Of The First 4 Games Of The 2016 Dallas Cowboys Season

I went back and assessed the playoffs teams of the last three seasons. Three years is a pretty significant chunk of time, and that gives us 36 total teams - 36 total first quarters - to look at.

1st Quarter Record 4-0 3-1 2-2 1-3 0-4
2013 5 1 4 2 0
2014 0 7 5 0 0
2015 5 1 4 2 0
Total 10 (28%) 9 (25%) 13 (36%) 4 (11%) 0 (0%)

It appears that the most common route taken by playoff teams over the last three seasons has been via a 2-2 start. Second is the super popular undefeated stance, third 3-1, and last is the 1-3 variety. As you can see no team that has participated in the playoffs during the last three seasons has started off winless in the first quarter.

The Cowboys first four games of the 2016 seasons are against the Giants, in Washington, against the Bears, and in San Francisco. Considering that the first two of those are division games they are even more important. Dallas started off their season with two NFC East games last year and won them both, so they're experienced in this regard.

You can view the 2016 Dallas Cowboys Schedule right here. If you'd like an iPhone or Android schedule wallpaper you can get one here! For my official breakdown of the schedule you can head right here.

The 1st Quarter Pass Rush - Will There Be Any?

The primary issue that will be plaguing the Cowboys in the early hours of the 2016 season will be the pass rush, or really the lack of one. According to Pro Football Reference's 2015 Offensive Line Grades the Cowboys first four opponents graded:

  1. New York Giants - 24th in Pass-Blocking, 16th in Run-Blocking, 4th in Penalties, T-20th Overall.
  2. Washington Redskins - 13th in Pass-Blocking, 15th in Run-Blocking, 12th in Penalties, 11th Overall.
  3. Chicago Bears - 17th in Pass-Blocking, 5th in Run-Blocking, 20th in Penalties, 16th Overall.
  4. San Francisco 49ers - 14th in Pass-Blocking, 30th in Run-Blocking, 6th in Penalties, 27th Overall.

Thankfully the Cowboys won't be facing any supremely stout offensive lines when they are without their most lethal weapons. This bodes well for the talent that is currently on the roster which has a lot of potential, but is ultimately unproven.

Recent history suggests that if the Cowboys can walk out of the 1st Quarter of the season 2-2 then they'll be well in contention. Given the returning offensive talent, including the newly drafted Ezekiel Elliott, defensive prowess won't be as necessary. Nevertheless it is another point of optimism that the lines they'll be attacking aren't too intimidating.

How do you think the Dallas Cowboys will fare in the 1st Quarter of 2016? Let us know! Comment below, Email me at, or Tweet to me at @rjochoa!

Tell us what you think about "How Important Are 2016’s First 4 Games For The Dallas Cowboys?" in the comments below. You can also email me at, 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!

Dallas Cowboys

Though Promising, We Need To Relax About Safety Kavon Frazier

Kevin Brady



Evaluating The Future Of Kavon Frazier, Byron Jones, And The Safety Position

With the addition of former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard to the Cowboys' defensive coaching staff, fans are hoping that Dallas will create their own "Legion of Boom." Of course this is a lofty goal, but one worth pursuing nonetheless.

If the Cowboys are to recreate the Legion of Boom they will need their version of two vital pieces: Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.

The Seahawks defense works, in many ways, because of these two players. Thomas' ability to play centerfield and literally defend sideline to sideline gives the Seahawks the freedom to use Chancellor where he's best, as a box safety. Chancellor is a big, physical safety who defends the run effectively in the box and can blanket tight ends in man coverage with his size and athleticism.

These safeties are arguably the most critical pieces to the Legion of Boom, though having a shutdown corner in Richard Sherman certainly doesn't hurt.

Realizing Chancellor's importance, Cowboys fans are hoping that current safety Kavon Frazier can fulfill this role in Dallas. Since being drafted by the Cowboys in 2016 Frazier has made his home on Special Teams. As an impressive tackler in both punt and kick coverage, Frazier earned himself time at safety down the stretch of the 2017 season.

Kavon Frazier

S Kavon Frazier

All in all, Frazier played rather well. Against the Washington Redskins he stepped in and made a few splash plays at the line of scrimmage, causing Cowboys Nation to lose their minds. After that impressive Thursday night game, however, Kavon Frazier didn't really reach that same level of performance.

Frazier is still a liability when asked to cover, especially when asked to play as a two deep safety. He also struggles when taking angles at times, though playing downhill as a tackler is his best attribute. Frazier actually reminds me a bit of Barry Church, though over time Church became more refined in coverage than Frazier currently is.

Some have argued that Kavon Frazier's presence should stop the Cowboys from considering a first round safety. I would disagree, and actually believe that if Florida State's Derwin James is available, the Cowboys should consider making that pick.

If you could combine the athleticism and coverage abilities of Byron Jones with the physicality and "box safety" qualities of Kavon Frazier, you'd have a fantastic safety. Unfortunately, this isn't the Marvel Universe and we are left without any super heroes in the back-end.

Hopefully Kris Richard will figure out how to correctly place all of these pieces in the Dallas Cowboys secondary going forward.

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Dallas Cowboys

Maverick Carter: LeBron James Considered Cowboys During NBA Lockout

Kevin Brady



Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Maverick Carter is a pretty important man in the world of sports. As a business man, entrepreneur, and manager of one of the best basketball players of all time in LeBron James, Maverick Carter is certainly used to making headlines.

This week, while on former NFL running back Arian Foster's podcast "Now What? with Arian Foster," Carter claimed that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones once attempted to negotiate a contract with LeBron James.

During the 2011 NBA lockout, Carter claims that Jones contacted LeBron James and discussed bringing him in as a Cowboy while the NBA was without games.

"Jerry Jones, being the smart marketer he day out of the clear blue sky LeBron got a contract I think it was for like one year, a couple million bucks to play for the Dallas Cowboys." - Maverick Carter.

Carter then states that LeBron may have the paperwork framed in his house to remember these discussions with Jerry Jones. LeBron's fandom for the Cowboys has been well documented, as has been his high school football prowess.

We may never know how "real" these discussions were, and of course it is long over now, but just imagining LeBron James getting a chance to play for the Dallas Cowboys would break the internet.

You can check out the full episode of the podcast here, and I highly suggest listening to the other episodes Arian Foster has to offer.

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Player News

Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?

Mauricio Rodriguez



Cowboys Planning

February 20 is an important day for NFL clubs this year. Why? It's the first day in which teams can franchise tag any player. Since 2015, when the Dallas Cowboys tagged Dez Bryant before they were able to work out a long-term deal, Jerry Jones & Co. haven't used the franchise tag. In 2018, though, that will change.

DeMarcus Lawrence just played his best season yet in 2017, and he's looking to get paid big time. Through three years, he had been able to rack up nine sacks, 52 tackles and three forced fumbles. In just 2017, he sacked opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times, had 35 tackles and managed to force four fumbles.

Not only did Lawrence look like an elite pass rusher, but he also improved as a run defender a lot. The Cowboys have been looking for a "War Daddy" for a long, long time and Lawrence seems to be the answer for this football team.

After such a big year, one would expect the Cowboys to sign him to a multi-year enormous contract. But there's a catch. Lawrence failed to remain healthy early in his career and really didn't make as much of an impact until last season.

There's no question that D-Law will be wearing a star come the 2018 NFL season, but will he be doing it under a long-term deal or under a franchise tag?

David Moore on Twitter

Cowboys will not place franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence tomorrow as that window opens but will do so by March 6 w/ understanding the goal is to reach a long-term deal. Both sides have until July 16 to make that happen.

For now, according to David Moore from Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence with the objective of getting a deal done in July. The tag however, is not expected to be placed as soon as possible.

Jess Haynie on Twitter

In 2015, the Cowboys didn't place the franchise tag on Dez Bryant until the final deadline day. This year's deadline is March 6th, so it may be two weeks before they make it official with DeMarcus Lawrence. #CowboysNation #DallasCowboys

What would franchise tagging DeMarcus Lawrence mean for this team?

First of all, they'd make sure he doesn't hit free agency in March. This gives the front office time to get to work and restructure players' contracts if they have to in order to open up as much cap space as they can before giving him a deal.

It's worth mentioning as well, cap savings from players who are designated as post-June 1 cuts will already be available. If you want to be more familiarized with the Cowboys' cap situation, I highly recommend you read John Williams' deep dive on the matter.

It'll continue to be a very interesting story for this offseason, as handing a franchise tag to a player tends to become a non-friendly situation for both parties. Let's hope that's not the case for the Cowboys and Lawrence this year and that everything works out fine.

Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue updating you and the rest of Cowboys Nation throughout the offseason.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?" 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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