Only eight teams remain alive in the race for the Super Bowl. Among them are the Dallas Cowboys, who recently defeated the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL's Wild Card round. It was a huge win for the NFC East champions against Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson, a duo with tons of postseason experience, including a Super Bowl victory. This was a team win, but one guy in the organization might be the biggest winner of the 24-22 victory.
Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett has been constantly doubted by fans and analysts alike. Last Saturday night, he made a great statement for himself and his future with the franchise.
Let's talk about his recent history with the team first, shall we?
For many years, the Cowboys' head coach has been widely discussed by many fans and analysts around the league. His career in Dallas has had a lot of ups and downs and unfortunately very little postseason action.
In the last three years, though, it's kind of hard to ignore what he's done. If you look at the big picture, it's actually not easy to argue the team would be better off with someone else at the wheel. Since 2016, the Dallas Cowboys are 33-17. That's a 66% winning percentage. That ranks fourth in the NFL in that period, only behind the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Kansas City Chiefs. That's despite missing Ezekiel Elliott for six games and Tyron Smith for three weeks in 2017.
The Dallas Cowboys have won the NFC East in three of the last five seasons. And who knows what could've happened if Tony Romo hadn't been out in 2015. I'm not sure there's a coach out there who would've found success with such a QB carousel that featured Kellen Moore, Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel.
And of course, we must talk about Jason Garrett's record in the playoffs. Before Saturday's game, Garrett had a mediocre 1-2 record. Even the total of three postseason games is disappointing. The Cowboys' head coach really needed to remind everyone that he is in fact able to win in January. He managed to do just that last Saturday versus a playoff-experienced coach in Seattle's Pete Carroll. He's now at 2-2 in his career.
He was able to lead his team to victory in a back-and-forth low scoring game that was coming off a 6-1 streak before the playoffs. The Seahawks weren't able to shine doing what they do best, which is running the football. The Cowboys were prepared for the big stage and handled the game pretty well. In an intense match, Garrett's team was more dominant than what the scoreboard says and did what they've done against strong teams.
They dominated the time of possession with a strong running game and an elite defense. With a playoff win under their belt, the Cowboys are now headed to Los Angeles to face the two seed Rams in the Divisional Round.
Not to mention the team started the season 3-5 and didn't quit. The mere fact that they're still in it after such a start is impressive. Garrett has been a huge factor in the Cowboys' turnaround of the 2018 season and should receive a big round of applause for that. Time and time again, we've witnessed how his players never quit on him or the team. That's really special.
They didn't do so when they were losing 21-3 in the playoffs versus Green Bay. Despite it resulting in a loss, the Cowboys came back to tie it 31-31 before losing to a game winning field goal. We've talked a lot about how Dak Prescott having a lot of comeback wins and game winning drives. Well, those shouldn't be QB stats only. They're a team stat... a coaching stat.
Let me say that I myself have questioned Garrett's job a lot. This is not the first time I begin to regret that either. What Garrett needs to prove now is consistency. His future will definitely not be decided by next week's outcome against the LA Rams, but it'd be great for him to continue to rack up postseason victories and give this team a shot at a championship.
Who knows if Garrett will remain the Cowboys' coach for long. But for now, it's hard to make many arguments against him. We can talk about his 8-8 seasons from long ago, but that doesn't seem to make any sense to me. Since 2014, the Cowboys have been a different team.
However, they still lack something and that is postseason success. This is the year to turn that around. The Cowboys have gotten their first win of the playoffs but they surely hope to play a lot more football. For now, on to the Rams...
Why I’m Not Buying The Jason Witten Rejuvenation Story
Last week, Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett made headlines with some quotes about the return of Jason Witten. Neither Garrett nor Witten tend to make headlines with their words often, but the two combined to do so with a quote this week.
“Yeah, absolutely. He’s been excited about every part of it ever since I met him and that hasn’t changed,” coach Jason Garrett said. “The work that he’s done in the weight room in the off-season program has been outstanding. His testing numbers and all of that are what they’ve been or even better. And he just has an unbelievable way about him. Tremendous passion for the game. And he demonstrates that every day. Witt looks good. He’s excited to be back and we’re certainly fortunate to have him back.” - Jason Garrett on Witten.
Multiple Cowboys' media outlets ran with these quotes, looking to show that the Cowboys have found a version of Jason Witten that they have not seen in quite some time. They are, publicly, stating that they believe a year away from the game did Witten some good, and that he will be a much healthier and fresher player in 2019 than he was back when he last played in 2017.
As a fan of the team, I sure hope this is the case. But as a realistic human being, I can't get behind this at all.
Jason Witten hasn't been very good for quite some time now. I know he's a Cowboy legend, and will forever be a fan favorite, but the facts are the facts. As a run blocker Witten has regressed greatly in his later years. More often it seemed he was re-adjusting his jersey after a missed block than he was making blocks to spring Ezekiel Elliott on the edge.
As a receiver, Witten's much slower than he used to be. And while he was never a blazer who relied on his speed to win, his lack of speed certainly holds him back in today's game. And if the Cowboys want to be multiple and versatile on offense, I'm not sure how a greatly-aged tight end helps them to do so.
He's still the smart, instinctive route runner he's always been, but at 37 years old what can we realistically expect from him?
I'll be honest, I'm very skeptical that Jason Witten is going to give the Cowboys anything in 2019. Maybe earlier in the season he will look better than expected, but can he withstand a full NFL season? It's impossible to say for sure now, but I'm absolutely not buying that he's rejuvenated or extra-fresh after a year off from football.
Connor Williams Hopes Added Weight, Experience Aids Him In 2019
Offensive lineman Connor Williams had himself an interesting start to his young career. The second round pick was expected to be a plug-and-play guard for the Cowboys, earning the starting left guard spot from just about the first day of training camp.
The results from Williams' play were mixed, however. At moments Connor Williams looked like his athletic, technically sound self, working well on the Cowboys outside zone runs. Other times, though, he was simply overpowered by bigger and stronger defensive tackles.
Williams lost his left guard spot due to injury late in the season, and when Xavier Su'a-Filo came in and played relatively well, fans soured a bit on the then-rookie lineman. Still there was no question that Williams was the better player between the two, and he rightfully started in both the Cowboys playoff games last season.
Now entering year two, and with third round pick Connor McGovern potentially competing for a guard spot and rumors of a move to right tackle swirling around him, Williams believes he's done enough to improve before his Sophomore year.
Connor Williams spoke to DallasCowboys.com, and gave some decent quotes on what his offseason preparation has looked like thus far. Williams emphasized that his main goal was to add strength and size, something he looks to have clearly done based on recent photographs.
“I think I’ve put myself in a good position. Now it’s just about refining the technique and feeling comfortable.” - Connor Williams
According to Williams he played at a "light 300" pounds in 2018, but is now tipping the scales at 315 pounds. That's quite the difference, especially considering that Williams carries the weight pretty well in his frame.
All Pro veteran guard Zack Martin has taken Williams under his wing, as the young lineman credits Martin for being his lifting partner this offseason.
Right tackle might be in Connor Williams' 2020 future, but as of now, he has to ready himself to compete at left guard against the heavier defensive tackles he once struggled with. It's very encouraging to see the progress he has made so far.
Travis Frederick’s Return Highlights Start Of Cowboys’ OTAs
The Cowboys opening of voluntary OTAs came with some serious excitement from football-starved fans. But as we all know, these workouts are just about meaningless in terms of storylines for the upcoming season.
I say "just about meaningless" because there are some storylines which matter, though. Travis Frederick's return, of course, is one of those storylines.
After missing all of 2018 due to Guillain-Barre syndrome, Frederick appears to have gained his strength and ability back heading into 2019. Now he is back where he belongs, as the starting center for the Dallas Cowboys.
@tfrederick72 🔙 at it! 💪🏼 #OTAs https://t.co/wht2Lh5yr5
Travis Frederick's importance to the Cowboys cannot be understated. In addition to being one of the best linemen in all of football, the All-Pro veteran center is responsible for much of the pre-snap communication across the offensive line. His absence was clearly felt in 2018, even as Joe Looney played well-above the preseason expectation level.
Frederick returns to anchor an offensive line which is surrounded with some serious pre-season hype. With Zack Martin back to full health, Connor Williams having a year under his belt, and newly-drafted Connor McGovern comes in with high hopes of starting on the interior.
Regardless of how the rest of the Cowboys' offensive line works itself out, it was great to see Travis Frederick back in action, even if it was during a non-contact voluntary practice.
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