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The Chicago Cubs won the World Series. Huzzah for the Cubbies.
Odds are that you stayed up along with the rest of the world to watch the historic Game 7 that became one of the finest nights of baseball we've ever witnessed in our lifetime. I throw this word around a lot, but it is fitting for what we witnessed on November 2nd, 2016... Game 7 of the World Series was epic.
During the game, and its epicness, the thought hit me that this was a game we'll tell our grandchildren about. Seriously. If you watched all 10 miraculous innings you'll remember forever where you were when the Cubs broke their 108-year Championship drought.
There are a lot of plays that carry that same weight. The David Tyree catch, Ray Allen's Game 6 3-pointer, Malcolm Butler's interception, and LeBron James' block are all iconic moments that have happened over the last decade throughout sports. How many full games are there like this, though? Whole contests where you know throughout it how special it is? The only one I can think of is the 2006 Rose Bowl when Texas defeated USC in amazing fashion. Game 7 of the 2016 World Series had that type of feel.
What does all of this have to do with the Cowboys, though? Here at Inside The Star we bring you the goods on matters concerning America's Team, and the Cubs winning the World Series had me thinking about our 'Boys.
Cubs 1st Baseman Anthony Rizzo said in the middle of all the celebration that they were World Champions... for the rest of their lives. Now that is epic.
The Cubs hadn't won a World Championship in 108 years. A hundred and eight! ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT YEARS! Yet, the Cubbies have some of the most loyal fans across all sports. Why? What could possibly make 108 years of heartbreak worth it?
World Series Champions. #FlyTheW
Terry Francona, Manager of the Cleveland Indians, gave one of the classier interviews you'll ever see a losing team give. In the middle of it he said, "It hurts because we care so much."
We care so much. That's why we're willing to suffer 108 years of pain... because that one year when it's your time it's all worth it. The Chicago Cubs and their fans are living proof of that.
The past decade in Cowboys History hardly compares to a 108-year drought, but it's certainly been filled with plenty of heartbreak: Romo's fumble in Seattle, the Divisional loss against New York, trading for Roy Williams, the first broken collarbone, 8-8, 8-8, 8-8, the Broncos loss, when Dez caught it, the second broken collarbone, the third broken collarbone... some day it will all be worth it for us, too.
What about all the victory in the last decade? Romo beating the undefeated Colts in his first start at Texas Stadium, the whole 2007 season, the back-to-back wins over Philly in 2009 including in the Wild Card Round, the Colts win without Romo in 2010, when Dez took over the second half of 2012, Romo out-dueling Peyton in 2013, Seattle in 2014, Philadelphia in 2014, Detroit in 2014, the 2015 opener, and everything we've experienced this season including our most recent overtime victory with our future at the helm. Those small victories all make the weeks of agony and suffrage worth it.
Watching the Cubs win the World Series, seeing them Fly The W... it gives sports fans of all teams hope and inspiration. The literal truth is now that you can actually go 108 years with total and complete devastation, but at some point it will all be worth it.
Let's hope that day is soon for us. Go Cowboys. Huzzah.
Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick
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:
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!
DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class
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.
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.
When it Mattered Most, Cowboys Offensive Line Protected Dak Prescott
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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