On paper, the Dallas Cowboys 2017 schedule certainly looks a lot tougher than what they faced a season ago. That's what happens when you finished dead last in the division one year and win the division the next. But, you won't hear the Cowboys complaining about their 2017 schedule. That's just not there nature.
I previously shared with all of you my 2017 win/loss prediction for the Dallas Cowboys. I thought I would follow that up by identifying the toughest adversaries the Cowboys will face in each game of the 2017 season. Let me know if you agree or disagree with who I identified as being the toughest adversaries the Cowboys will face this season.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants
The Dallas Cowboys will open of the 2017 season against the New York Giants at home and see them once again in Week 14. The Giants are arguably the Cowboys toughest NFC East division opponent, which pretty much guarantees these games will be close and hard-fought, ultimately coming down to the final seconds.
Make no mistake, the Giants have a talented team, but I believe the toughest adversary they have on their roster is wide receiver OBJ. Beckham Jr. is one of the best WRs in the entire league and has to be accounted for on every single play. He will be a tough matchup for the Cowboys' young secondary, especially early in the season.
Von Miller, DE, Denver Broncos
In Week 2 of the 2017 season, the Dallas Cowboys will play their first road game against the Denver Broncos. The Broncos are one of the more talented teams in the entire NFL, but the quarterback play is really the only thing holding them back from being a serious Super Bowl contender.
The toughest adversary the Cowboys will see against the Broncos is without a doubt defensive end Von Miller. Miller is arguably the best pass rusher in the entire NFL and I can almost guarantee that he will be matched up against whoever the Cowboys employ at the right tackle position. The Cowboys have to have a plan to help neutralize Miller from putting pressure on Dak Prescott and disrupting the passing game if they want to win this game.
David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
In Week 3, the Dallas Cowboys will play their first back to back road game of the season when they take on the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals are a talented team, but they also have quite a few aging players in key positions that could hinder their performance in 2017.
It's no secret running back David Johnson is the key to success for the Cardinals, which makes him the toughest adversary against the Cowboys. Johnson is one of the best all-around RBs in the league and the one player the Cowboys' defense has to keep in check. Fortunately, the defense should be prepared for Johnson after practicing against Ezekiel Elliott.
Wade Phillips, DC, Los Angeles Rams
After back-to-back road games, the Dallas Cowboys return home to take on the Los Angeles Rams in Week 4. This should be one of the most winnable games on the 2017 schedule for the Cowboys, but nothing is a given in the NFL.
The Rams are in the middle of a rebuild, so there's not a lot of individual players Dallas should really have to worry about. I thought about going with Todd Gurley or Aaron Donald here, but I think the toughest adversary is going to be former Cowboys head coach and current Rams defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips.
Phillips is switching the Rams defense from a 4-3 scheme to a 3-4, but LA has quite a bit of high draft picks invested on that side of the ball. You can bet Phillips wants to stick it to the team he was the last head coach of, especially since he feels he didn't get a fair chance with to begin with.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
If there is one team on the Cowboys' 2017 schedule I'm tired of seeing, it's the Green Bay Packers. Just about every time these two teams square off there is a controversial call that ultimately decides the outcome of the game, but let's hope it's different Week 5.
The toughest adversary the Cowboys will see from Green Bay is 100% Aaron Rodgers. There simply isn't another player on the entire Green Bay roster that is more important to the team than Rogers. They are going to win or lose by how well Rogers performs in 2017.
San Francisco 49ers Defensive Front
Coming off their bye week, the Dallas Cowboys head out on the road once again to take on the San Francisco 49ers. Like the LA Rams, the 49ers are in the middle of a rebuild with very little talent on either side of the ball that should concern the Cowboys.
The 49ers have invested quite a few of their high draft picks in their defensive line, which likely makes them the toughest adversary for Dallas. Arik Armistead, DeForest Buckner, and Solomon Thomas were all high draft picks and could give the Cowboys talented offensive line some trouble. But, it's nothing the Cowboys' OL shouldn't be able to handle.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins
In Week 7, the Dallas Cowboys play their second back to back games of the 2017 season when they travel to Washington to take on the Redskins. They will play each other once again in Week 13. Just like every other NFC East division game, it's guaranteed to be a hard-fought battle that comes down to the very end.
The Redskins continue to improve their roster and become a more complete team, but their toughest adversary for Dallas has to be quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins will have nearly an entire new set of starting WRs, making the Redskins best chance of winning in 2017 coming from the QBs arm and the connection he develops with his receivers.
Tyreek Hill, WR/KR, Kansas City Chiefs
After back-to-back road games, the Dallas Cowboys finally return home to take on a talented Kansas City Chiefs team in Week 9. The Chiefs were a controversial call away from being one of the final few teams left the playoffs in 2016, and have a roster packed full of talent.
With the team as talented as the Chiefs, it was a little difficult narrowing down the biggest adversary for the Cowboys. But, I finally decided on second-year WR/KR Tyreek Hill. He is dangerous anytime the ball is in his hands and can score from anywhere on the field. He will be a difficult matchup problem for both the Cowboys secondary and special teams units.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
The Dallas Cowboys will head out on the road in Week 10 to take on a very talented Atlanta Falcons team. The Falcons have one of the best offenses in the entire NFL and a young defense that shows a lot of promise.
I personally believe the toughest adversary for the Cowboys against the Falcons is none other than wide receiver Julio Jones. Jones is one of the best WRs in the entire NFL and when healthy can take over a game by himself. This will be a tough matchup for the Cowboys young secondary, but hopefully they can come up with a game plan to limit Jones' effectiveness.
Fletcher Cox, DT, Philadelphia Eagles
The Dallas Cowboys play the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 11 and 17 of the 2017 season. This NFC East divisional matchup is always entertaining because these two teams truly hate one another. The Eagles are a very talented team, but not when you compare their roster to the Cowboys.
I think the toughest adversary in this matchup is defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Cox has developed into one of the better DTs in the entire NFL and is effective in both the running and passing game. I would be surprised if he has matched up with Zack Martin very often, instead he will probably be playing against whoever the Cowboys insert at left guard.
Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers are one of the more confusing teams to analyze on the Cowboys' 2017 schedule. They have a balanced blend of veterans and youth throughout their roster and are talented enough to give the Cowboys some trouble.
The Chargers have a talented pass rushing duo of Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa, but I still believe the toughest adversary for the Cowboys is quarterback Philip Rivers. This Week 12 matchup will ultimately come down to how Rivers performs and if the Cowboys defense can do enough to keep him out of the end zone. Rivers may be one of the older players on the roster, but he still has plenty left in the tank.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Oakland Raiders
In week 15, the Dallas Cowboys travel to Oakland to take on a talented and playoff caliber Raiders team. This team is built much like the Cowboys, which should make for a very entertaining/close ballgame.
The Raiders were able to lure Marshawn Lynch out of retirement to become their featured back and it is a gamble that could pay off huge in 2017. A year away from the game could have benefited Lynch, because he is entering that age were players bodies start to break down. If he returns to anywhere near "Beastmode", the Cowboys defense could have their hands full.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
The Dallas Cowboys play their final home game of the 2017 season against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 16. Hopefully the Cowboys have secured their playoff spot by now, but if not this game could have huge implications to their playoff hopes/seeding.
It would've been too easy to go with one of Seattle's talented defensive players, but I think the Cowboys' offense can do enough to put points on the board. I believe quarterback Russell Wilson will be the toughest adversary in this matchup. If the Cowboys defense can fluster and limit Wilson's productivity, they should be able to put enough points on the board to win this game.
Share your thoughts on who you think the toughest adversaries are on the Cowboys' 2017 schedule in the comment section below.
2018 In Review: Byron Jones Emerges As CB1
Heading into the 2018 season Byron Jones was being asked to prove himself. The former first round pick had fallen out of the coaches' good graces during his third season, though many of his struggles could be attributed to those very coaches which were then questioning his ability.
Being asked to play out of position, or at least in a spot which did not maximize his natural ability, Jones struggled in 2017. Too often he was playing in the box as a safety where his lack of physicality was exposed by the opponent's run game. This was mostly due to the coaching staff falling in love with his tight-end-erasing ability in man coverage, but backfired when overused as a safety.
Once hired the following offseason, Kris Richard and company decided to move Byron Jones to cornerback full time, allowing him to utilize his excellent coverage skills and athletic ability to the fullest, rather than putting him at a disadvantage in the box.
The results? Well, Jones had one of the best seasons of any cornerback in football, earning All Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his young career.
Byron Jones had a dominant season for Dallas
Pro Football Focus graded Jones as the sixth best cornerback in all of football last season, allowing just 0.79 yards per coverage snap. Despite not having an interception on the season, Jones still earned national recognition as one of the best cornerbacks in the entire league.
Down the stretch of the season, Chidobe Awuzie started to play up to the level which fans had hoped for during the preseason. He had been sticky in coverage most of the year, but now he was making plays on the ball at a much better rate, forcing incompletions. This led to an increase in targets to Jones' side, and though the increase resulted in more catches given up by the number one cornerback, I don't think Jones' play faltered as much as some will have you believe.
The fact is, when you get targeted more you are bound to give up more catches and yards. The key is to force them into contested catches, and make things as difficult for the receiver as possible when targeted.
Byron Jones continued to do this all season long, and fans should be excited for the next step of his growth in 2019.
Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial
Por muchos años, el tema del tope salarial ha sido un tema sensible para los Dallas Cowboys. Entre dinero muerto y otros problemas, el equipo ha tenido una situación delicada en este aspecto. Sin embargo, para la temporada del 2019 tienen más espacio de lo que estamos acostumbrados.
Según Over The Cap, los Cowboys tendrán aproximadamente 48 millones de dólares disponibles en 2019. Es importante recalcar que este número no es definitivo y puede cambiar. Año tras año, esta administración ha sido aficionada de reestructurar los contratos de ciertos veteranos para liberar espacio salarial constantemente. Además de esto, hay varios jugadores bajo contrato que el equipo podría decidir cortar para liberar aún más dinero.
Al ver sólo 48 millones disponibles, es complicado imaginar un escenario en que el equipo logre satisfacer todos sus objetivos. Hay bastantes candidatos a grandes extensiones en el equipo, principalmente dos jugadores. En una liga en la que quarterback es la posición más importante, la segunda más importante podría ser la del caza cabezas, cuyo objetivo es ir tras el quarterback contrario.
Pues en Dallas, hoy dos jugadores en estas posiciones que hay que extender. El más urgente sin duda es el defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence se puso el jersey del equipo cuando este lo designó a jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia. Afortunadamente, el atleta de 26 años la hizo de soldado y jugó sin amenazar con faltar a entrenamientos ni pretemporada.
Lo que sí comentó es que no pasaría por lo mismo en 2019. Ahora, el momento está aquí y es tiempo de que los Cowboys lo extiendan. El valor de Lawrence es difícil de predecir, pero es bastante seguro que se acercará a los números de Khalil Mack. Mack hizo historia ganando un contrato que en promedio gana 23.5 millones al año. Si bien no anticiparía que lo supere, la cifra estará cerca al contrato del defensivo de los Chicago Bears.
Además está Dak Prescott, cuyo contrato probablemente estará por encima de los 25 millones anuales. Son contratos caros, pero son piezas fundamentales para el equipo. Definitivamente se les tiene que pagar a ambos. Son pilares que año tras año buscan equipos en toda la NFL.
Además de esto, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley y más podrían tener un impacto en el tope salarial. Algunos buscan un contrato nuevo, otros una extensión. Pero honestamente, me parece que habrá más espacio en el tope salarial de lo que pensamos. Sólo es cuestión de tiempo para que los Cowboys comiencen a reestructurar a sus veteranos para ahorrarse unos cuantos millones para utilizar en agencia libre.
Tyron Smith, Tyrone Crawford entre otros pueden ser buenas opciones para comenzar este proceso. Antes era Jason Witten uno de los candidatos favoritos para este proceso, pero él ya se encuentra comentando partidos para ESPN. En Inside The Star, continuaremos actualizándote con contenido al día de los Dallas Cowboys.
Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?
Super Bowl LIII is in the books, and the Dallas Cowboys can look back on a better-than-expected 2018 campaign. Having won the NFC East with a 10-6 record and bowing out to eventual finalists Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys' young team can look ahead to 2019 as a chance to take another step forward.
The offseason is now upon us, with the NFL free agency period opening in the middle of March and the NFL Draft coming around at the end of April. Until those times, experts, pundits, and fans are left to assess their teams and predict their activities in the running to the start of next season.
The Dallas Cowboys are in a precarious position, with the team exceeding expectations, still being very young and having plenty of cap space, but also having many top-end players set to become free agents and being without a first-round pick in this year’s draft. There does, however, appear to be a way for the team to make improvements and solidify their place atop the NFC East and potentially go on to win in the Conference Finals.
Lock Down the Big Guns
Many see DeMarcus Lawrence as the top potential free agent this spring, so the Dallas Cowboys need to do everything in their power to lock down the 26-year-old defensive end.
Vice President Stephen Jones has emphasized the team’s target of retaining their own stars, per Star-Telegram, with Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and perhaps Byron Jones being in the discussion for long-term deals.
As it stands, the team will have roughly $48.5 million in cap space for next season, which leaves plenty of space to re-sign their top players. They look set to let go of Tavon Austin, David Irving, and quite possibly Cole Beasley, among others, leaving a need to add reinforcements.
Adding New Talent
One of the most heavily rumored moves for Dallas in this free agency is picking up native Texan and former Legion of Boom linchpin Earl Thomas, per Forbes.
Against the Rams in the playoffs and throughout the season, the Cowboys lacked a defenseman who could make plays on the pass. Thomas is one of the notorious ball hawks in the league, boasting 28 career interceptions, three of which came in just four games of last season.
If the Cowboys can re-sign their stars while keeping some space for an Earl Thomas-sized contract, which clocked in at $10.4 million in 2018 for the Seattle Seahawks, their odds of going all the way next season will significantly increase.
Right now, the expected names of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lead the odds to win the next Super Bowl at +750. Behind them, the Rams sit at +900 having suffered a suffocating defeat in this year’s Super Bowl. Much further down are the Cowboys at +2500 right now with redbet. If they re-sign Lawrence, pay their young stars, and bring in Thomas, they’ll shoot up the table of favorites.
Then, there’s also the additions in the draft to consider.
The Cowboys may be without a first-round selection, but that may end up working in their favor. Round one of the 2019 NFL Draft is set to be laden with defensive selections according to most mock drafts, with a few quarterbacks sprinkled around and a minimal selection of offensive weapons. If the Cowboys re-sign Lawrence, they’ll be looking good at defensive end, so should then turn to giving Prescott another weapon in the passing game, which will also help to keep defenses honest and give Elliott more room to operate.
As stated, the NFL is a passing league, and Prescott exploded once he was given a viable option in Amari Cooper. Michael Gallup is expected to take another step forward next season, but just in case, the Cowboys can add another strong receiving option in the draft thanks to the strength of the defensive class. A.J. Brown of Ole Miss will almost certainly go in the first round, but exciting talents in D.K. Metcalf, Parris Campbell, Marquise Brown, and Deebo Samuel could all still be available when Dallas rings in during the second round.
Improving Dallas' pass options and pass defense will go a long way toward improving the team and allowing them to push on to a bigger and better campaign in 2019.
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