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How Romo Wins 2016 Comeback Player of the Year

The NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award is given to an NFL player who has shown perseverance overcoming adversity. Winners in the past have either missed or performed poorly in the prior season, or suffered a severe injury but then excelled the following year. While it may be too early to tell, I think Tony Romo has a good chance of winning the Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2016. The last QB to win the award was Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers in 2013. Rivers, statistically, had one of his best seasons.

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Cowboys Headlines - Does Wilcox Have a Fighting Chance at FS? 2

The NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award is given to an NFL player who has shown perseverance overcoming adversity. Winners in the past have either missed or performed poorly in the prior season, or suffered a severe injury but then excelled the following year.

While it may be too early to tell, I think Tony Romo has a good chance of winning the Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2016.

The last QB to win the award was Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers in 2013. Rivers, statistically, had one of his best seasons. He finished in the top five in completion percentage (69.5 percent), yards per pass (8.23), passing yards (4,478), passing touchdowns (32) and passer rating (105.5) -- all while only throwing 11 interceptions and making the Pro Bowl. He threw for the best season of his career and propelled the Chargers into the playoffs.

But that’s not to say Rivers didn’t have a lot of help from his rookie wide receiver, Keenan Allen, who asserted himself as Rivers' best weapon and positioned himself as a possible Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate.

No kidding! The Cowboys also have a potential OROY candidate!

Cowboys Headlines - Does Wilcox Have a Fighting Chance at FS? 1Before Rivers, Peyton Manning was named CPOY after missing the entire 2011 season from a neck surgery. When he returned to the NFL, Manning set franchise records in nearly every passing category. He also played his 12th career Pro Bowl, a record among QBs. He and the Denver Broncos finished the season with a 13-3 record.

Manning also earned a pair of AFC Offensive Player of the Month Awards in October and December. At the end of his 2012 campaign, Manning had thrown 400 completed passes with a 68.6% completion rate for 4,659 yards, 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

In 2011, the quarterback for the Detroit Lions, Matthew Stafford, won the CPOY Award. Less than a year after his right shoulder surgery, Stafford threw for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns to lead the Lions to their first playoff since 1999. Stafford, who played only three games in the previous season, didn’t miss a single one in 2011. He completed 421 passes in the regular season and made the playoffs.

During his 2011 season, in four of Detroit's 10 wins, the Lions had to overcome second-half deficits of at least 13 points. In all four of those comebacks, Stafford threw multiple touchdowns to rally the Lions.

Come from behind wins? That’s something Romo can do.

Cowboys Headlines - Does Wilcox Have a Fighting Chance at FS?The Comeback Player of the Year Award is well within Romo’s reach. In 2014, Romo finished with 3,704 passing yards, 34 touchdowns and nine interceptions while leading the NFL with a 69.9 completion percentage. He led the NFL in passer rating with 113.2, made the playoffs and a Pro Bowl.

For Romo to win CPOY, he’ll have to follow closely in the footsteps of the previous QB CPOYs before him. Here’s how:

Have a completion percentage of around 67.2.

The combined average of Rivers’ (69.5), Manning’s (68.6), and Stafford’s (63.5) completion percentage is 67.2. Topping that completion percentage is well within Romo’s grasp considering he had a completion percentage of 69.9 in 2014.

Complete 36 Touchdown Passes.

Rivers’, Manning’s and Stafford’s touchdowns average 36, throwing 32, 37 and 41, respectively. Romo had 34 touchdowns in 2014, two more than Rivers and three less than Manning in their own CPOY campaigns. If Romo had played a whole season in 2014, he probably would have thrown two more touchdowns.

Throw for around 4,725 yards.

Rivers, Manning and Stafford threw 4,478, 4,659 and 5,038 respectively. Those numbers average out to 4,725 yards. Besting these numbers could be the biggest stretch for Romo, seeing as he only threw for 3,704 yards in 2014. This could be attributed to how heavily they relied on the running game that season - which brings me to my next point.

Rely on Ezekiel Elliott.

Elliott has the potential to be the Offensive Rookie of the Year. If Rivers’ success teaches us anything, it’s to rely on the young fresh talent. As Rivers relied on Keenan Allen - a potential OROY in 2013, so will Romo rely on Elliott - a potential OROY in 2016.

Thrive in the Fourth Quarter.

Like Stafford, Romo will have to pull out some fourth quarter wins. Luckily for Romo, he has the highest fourth quarter passer rating in NFL history with a mark of 102.9.

Be Named Offensive Player of the Month.

Manning was named Offensive Player of the Month twice in the 2012 season. If Romo could do the same, earning that recognition for just one month, it would certainly help his chances to win the CPOY.  It certainly isn’t impossible for him to earn Offensive Player of the Month because he’s done so four times in his career: In December of 2014, he was named Offensive Player of the Month after leading the Cowboys to a 4-0 record clinching the NFC East title. He had a passer rating of 133.7 for the month which was the best of any quarterback that month with at least 100 pass attempts.

Make the Playoffs.

Like Rivers, Manning, and Stafford, part of winning the award must include a playoff appearance. Based on his 2014 season, Romo could win the comeback player of the year and lead the Cowboys to the playoffs.

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

Fingers crossed, Dez Bryant, Orlando Scandrick, Tyrone Crawford, and most importantly, Tony Romo, will remain healthy enough to hopefully make it to the Super Bowl. Romo was also coming off back surgery in 2014, playing most of the season with broken bones in his back and he was still an MVP candidate. Imagine what he can accomplish in 2016 if he can stay fully healthy.

With the 2016 season on its way, I think Tony Romo is due for a comeback. The CPOY Award is well within his grasp.



I was born and raised in New York state's Hudson Valley and now attend school in New Jersey. Although I live in Montclair, my heart will always have a soft spot for Dallas, Texas. As an intern for Inside the Star, I now have a legitimate reason for the Cowboys to consume my life. Before, I was just a Cowboy fan with no life ... and very concerned parents. When I'm not writing about the Cowboys, I enjoy reading, seeing plays, creative writing, watching TV, and making my friends and family laugh. Follow me on Twitter, so we can connect on all topics related to America's Team. How 'bout em!

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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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