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Jason Garrett’s Seventh Season Raises Expectations

John Williams

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Jason Garrett
AP Photo / Scott Eklund

The Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys almost always seems to be on the hot seat. For Jason Garrett, that has been true nearly his entire tenure. There is a segment of the Dallas Cowboys media and fan base that has been so spoiled by the Super Bowl Championships of the 70s and 90s that anything less than that is a catastrophic season.

For those of us who are a bit younger and/or newer fans of the team, we've seen the flip side of the greatness that made the Dallas Cowboys America's Team.

For many of us, Jason Garrett's tenure has been the best run of success that any of us has known. I didn't become a fan until the Dave Campo era, and we all know what a disaster that was. Bill Parcells was good, but didn't deliver the high hopes for success that many in Cowboys Nation were hoping for.

We seemed to like Wade Phillips the person more than Wade Phillips the football coach, and it's clear that he's much more suited for his coordinator role than as the head coach.

Who Will Be The Cowboys Training Camp Standout In 2017?

Jun 13, 2017; Frisco, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett watches his team stretch during minicamp at The Star at Cowboys World Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

That brings us to Jason Garrett, whose teams in the early going were very top-heavy with talent and had little depth.

Those first three years were quite frustrating. The Cowboys were on the brink of the playoffs for three straight years, only to lose in week 17 each time and head home early.

In 2014, Garrett and the Cowboys far exceeded expectations and looked primed to advance to the NFC Championship game (and perhaps the Super Bowl), and yet had to go home earlier than we expected.

2015 was a disaster of the highest order. The team was able to hang around until late in the season -- despite horrendous quarterback play -- because of the ineptitude of the NFC East.

2016 looked to be a disaster after what happened to Tony Romo in week three of the preseason when he injured his back, yet again, and the Cowboys turned to rookie Dak Prescott to lead the team. 2016 was a magical season up until the slow start by the team at home against Green Bay that they couldn't fully recover from.

That brings us to 2017.

The expectations for the Dallas Cowboys have reached some epic proportions. While many around the NFL have soured on the Cowboys and decided to follow the "sophomore slump" narrative, many -- including Vegas -- have the Cowboys as a serious Super Bowl contender.

Dallas has been as high as 7-1 to win the Super Bowl next February and now sit with the third best odds at 8-1.

While we all hope for a Super Bowl, the reality is that only one of the 32 teams in the NFL will get to raise the Lombardi Trophy. As we've seen in Dallas in two of the last three years, even when you're the favorite, things don't always go your way.

For me, I don't need a Super Bowl for Coach Garrett to keep his job. There are goals the team must accomplish to keep Garrett and the other coaches off the hot seat.

First, I think they need to have at least a ten win season and a playoff appearance.

With the apparent increase in difficulty in strength of schedule, the Cowboys may not win 13 games again this season. In fact, I'd bet against that. Not because they are a worse team or a bad team, but because they have a lot of good teams on the schedule in 2017.

Getting into the playoffs is the first goal, but once the Cowboys get there, they need to make some noise. Again, that might not mean a Super Bowl Championship, but it needs to mean a deep run to at least the NFC Championship game.

The "Jason Garrett can't win big games" narrative is already out there. In order to douse that fire, he needs to get his team deep and be competitive.

Secondly, I think we need to see some progression from Dak Prescott. There are ways for Dak to improve in 2017, and Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, and Wade Wilson need to make sure that occurs.

Their jobs depend on the development of Dak Prescott.

Third. The team's defense needs to show, at the very least, slight improvement.

The front office spent valuable draft capital to infuse the defense with some young talent. They need to take a step forward.

Rod Marinelli's tenure has been average at best, as evidenced by the average defense they've put on the field. Known for taking away the football, the Cowboys have struggled in that department.

With the additions in the secondary they've made, the Cowboys should be better at corralling interceptions this year.

With a ton of questions along the defensive line, Garrett will need Marinelli to find another diamond in the rough and for Taco Charlton to be a first round talent.


The Dallas Cowboys look stocked for a long tenure of competitive football with their franchise quarterback, elite running back, All-Pro offensive line, and hopefully an emerging defense.

This is the deepest team that the Dallas Cowboys have put together since the early 90s.

I love the direction in which Garrett has led the Dallas Cowboys and I think he will be the coach to lead them to their sixth Super Bowl win. While I think he keeps his job if they come up short in the playoffs again, the time to make that return to Championship glory is now.

As the saying goes, "there's no time like the present."



Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

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7 Comments
  • Thomas Williams

    YES SIR!,,, I CANT WAIT FOR THIS SEASON TO START….COWBOYS 4 LIFE!!!

    • John Williams

      Yeah man. It’s time. I feel very confident about where this team could end up at the end of the season if several things go right.

  • TreFKennedy88

    I think we get to the NFC title game this season, by the law of averages it’s time they tilt towards us

    • John Williams

      Yeah, the breaks have certainly gone against us the last couple of trips to the playoffs.

      And the incredible plays made against us as well. It’s time for Dallas to be the heartbreaker in the playoffs.

      • TreFKennedy88

        By the law of averages we’re due our victories

        • John Williams

          Nothing is ever earned in the NFL, but I agree, time for the football to bounce our way a little bit.

  • Mr. Jaguar

    I wholeheartedly agree!!

Player News

Amari Cooper Wins 2nd NFC Offensive Player of the Week Award of 2018

Jess Haynie

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Amari Cooper

For the second time in just three weeks, Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

Cooper scored three touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime, to lead the Cowboys to victory last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. He has 10 catches for 217 yards, which led all NFL receivers last week.

Dallas Cowboys on Twitter

After his record-setting performance during week 14, @AmariCooper9 is the FIRST #DallasCowboys to win NFC Player of the Week twice in a season! → https://t.co/kvBDIeOgBd #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote

As the official website stated, Cooper is the first Cowboy to win the award twice in the same year. He's also the first Cowboy to be named Offensive Player of the Week since Ezekiel Elliott in 2016.

Before this year, Elliott was the only Dallas player to win the Offensive award in three seasons. Cooper has now done it twice in three weeks.

Since being traded to the Cowboys, Amari Cooper has amassed 40 catches for 642 yards and six touchdowns.

His wasted time in Oakland may keep Cooper out of the Pro Bowl this year, but he's already become a fan favorite in Cowboys Nation. Congratulations to Amari for another well-deserved award!



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Playoff Scenarios: Week 15 Impact Games

Jess Haynie

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Making Sense of the "Garrett Guys" Behind Cowboys Dez Bryant Release

It's hard to believe that we're looking at the Dallas Cowboys potentially clinching the NFC East this week, but that's how dramatic the turnaround has been over the last five games. Week 15 could lock Dallas into the playoffs and give them a lot of freedom over their final two games.

If the season ended today, these would be your NFC playoff standings:

  1. New Orleans Saints (11-2)
  2. Los Angeles Rams (11-2)
  3. Chicago Bears (9-4)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (8-5)
  5. Seattle Seahawks (8-5)
  6. Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1)
    ----------------------------------
  7. Carolina Panthers (6-7)
  8. Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)
  9. Washington Redskins (6-7)

TIEBREAKERS

  • The Cowboys lost to Seattle earlier this year, but still remain the 4th seed as a division winner over a wild card team.
  • The Panthers are ahead of the Eagles thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker.
  • The Eagles are ahead of the Redskins thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker. They play each other again in Week 17.
  • The Redskins beat the Panthers earlier this year, but their loss to Philadelphia within their own division negates that tiebreaker.

In truth, there's not much intrigue left for the Cowboys in this regular season. One win gives them the NFC East, and it would take the Saints or Rams dropping all three of their remaining games for Dallas to have a shot at a top-two seed.

So, barring the nearly impossible, Dallas is locked into either the 3rd or 4th seed. They will host one of the Wild Card teams in the first round of the playoffs.

The biggest thing to watch now is how the seeding shakes among the bottom four playoff teams. The Seahawks seem a cut above the likes of Minnesota, Carolina, or one of our NFC East friends, so avoiding them in the first round would be lovely.

Here are this week's games involving the NFC playoff contenders:

Dallas Cowboys @ Indianapolis Colts

We've already discussed what the Cowboys need to do, so let's talk about the Colts. Not only do they have home field advantage this week, but they are fighting for their playoff lives.

Indianapolis is one of four teams with a 7-6 record battling for the final Wild Card spot in the AFC playoffs. The Broncos are also in the mix at 6-7, giving none of these teams any cushion for losing.

Dallas has its own incentive to win, though. If they want to avoid Seattle in the first round, they probably need to take the #3 seed from the Chicago Bears. They need to keep winning and hope for the Bears to drop a game or two.

Ultimately, getting into the playoffs and starting at home is a huge reward. But anything that can help make the road a little easier is worth pursuing. It's no time to rest on your laurels.

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears

As we just discussed, we'd like to see Chicago drop a few games to give Dallas a shot at the #3 seed. This week isn't the worst opportunity, with Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay still not completely eliminated from playoff contention.

Expecting much from the Packers here is unwise. They've had a coaching change and appear to be in a state of organizational disarray. But they still have Rodgers, and crazy things always happens in rivalry games.

So while these are two teams seemingly headed in opposite directions, you never know what could happen given the variable elements. By all means, root for the Cheeseheads.

Miami Dolphins @ Minnesota Vikings

Your rooting interest here comes down to a simple question; who do you prefer to play among that last bunch of Wild Card teams? Who does Dallas match up best against between the Vikings, Panthers, and Eagles?

I think we'd all agree that we don't want to see the Eagles a third time. Beating a team three times in one year is tough to do, and especially given how close last week's meeting was.

The Panthers beat Dallas in the season opener, but that was in Carolina and well before the Cowboys were playing at a high level. A second meeting could go very differently, especially with the recent slumping by the Panthers.

Both Carolina and Minnesota are struggling, with one on a five-game losing streak and the latter having lost their last two. The Vikings just fired their offensive coordinator, so neither of these teams appear to be going into the postseason with any real momentum.

At this point, I'd say it's a toss-up between the Panthers and Vikings. Both are much preferable to seeing the Eagles again, so I would just keep rooting for both to win. In either case, they knock out Philadelphia.

We'll reassess the threat level of Carolina and Minnesota as playoff opponents in a few weeks.

Washington Redskins @ Jacksonville Jaguars

I didn't mention the Redskins among those last three teams because they may not win another game this year. Their QB situation is so bad that even the Jaguars look good by comparison.

Granted, Jacksonville is lousy right now. Washington might be able to go down there and get a win, but neither team has anything to play for now. This one may come down to whether or not the Jaguars have gone into tank mode.

Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers

Seattle just walloped the Niners 43-16 a couple of weeks ago, and changing venues is unlikely to make that much difference. The Seahawks are a legit NFC contender and San Francisco is already thinking about the offseason. A Seattle loss would be great, but it ain't happening this week.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Los Angeles Rams

While catching the Rams and getting a top-two seed would be great, it's barely plausible. The far more concrete benefit here is seeing the Eagles lose and getting them further away from a possible Wild Card spot.

In fact, an Eagles' loss this week would give Dallas the NFC East even if the Cowboys fall in  Indianapolis. That's not the way we want to win the division, but you take what you can get.

With the breaking news that Carson Wentz is unlikely to play this week with a back injury, you'd generally think this suits the Cowboys' interests. But Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles is still the backup in Philadelphia, so is anything really for certain?

New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers

We have every reason to root for Carolina here. For one, it helps the Panthers stay ahead of the Eagles in the Wild Card race. Also, it brings the Saints one loss closer to possibly being caught by Dallas. A Saints win doesn't really benefit us all.



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Ezekiel Elliott has Huge Day vs Eagles Thanks to Receiving Prowess

John Williams

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Ezekiel Elliott has Huge Day vs Eagles Thanks to Receiving Prowess

The Dallas Cowboys came away with a huge win against their division rival Philadelphia Eagles, putting them in a commanding position in the NFC East. They're up two games in the division and one of the more underrated story lines from the victory is Ezekiel Elliott's game. He had a huge day that no one is talking about.

Elliott had 28 carries for 113 yards and then caught 12 passes on 13 targets en route to his big performance in the 29-23 win over the Eagles. That's probably the quietest 40 touch, 192 total yard game you'll ever hear about. And yet, that's where we are. Please read that stat line again, because in all of our talk about Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and the defense, Ezekiel Elliott's stat line is absolutely ridiculous.

The receiving element that Elliott is providing the biggest difference to the offense this season. He's been a huge asset to Dak Prescott in the passing game as both a primary target and a check down option in the short part of the field. If Elliott isn't showing that he's the best running back in the league, with what he's doing with a broke down offensive line, then people will never give him the credit he's due.

For the last three years, the Dallas Cowboys and their fan base has known what an elite player the Cowboys have in Elliott. He's easily one of the best runners in the NFL, but if you talk to the general NFL fanbase or analysts around the league, Elliott doesn't get the same kind of love as players like Todd Gurley and Le'Veon Bell receive from the national media. The knock against Elliott has been that he doesn't bring the same value as a receiver. With what he has done over the last six weeks, and really all season long, it's safe to say, that won't be a knock against the Cowboys All-Pro running back.

Among running backs this season, Ezekiel Elliott ranks sixth in targets (77), fifth in receptions (65). seventh in yards (502), and is tied for 12th in receiving touchdowns with three. Elliott is the seventh highest rated running back when targeted among running backs with at least 50 targets this season.

Over the last six weeks, since the Amari Cooper trade, only Christian McCaffrey has more targets, receptions, and yards than Ezekiel Elliott.

Elliott's previous career high was in 2016 when he caught 32 passes on 39 targets. With three games left in the season, Elliott has more than doubled his previous career high from that season. Over the last six weeks, he's caught 40 passes with an average of 6.7 receptions per game.

Ezekiel Elliott is on pace for his best total yardage season in the NFL. If he continues at his current per game averages, Elliott would finish the season with 330 carries for 1,553 rushing yards, 80 catches on 100 targets for 618 yards and 10 total touchdowns. He's been great this year, but he's been even better over the last six games. At his per game averages for the last six games, over a 16 game season, Elliott's numbers would look like this; 363 carries for 1,715 yards rushing, 107 receptions on 120 targets for 872 yards, and 13 total touchdowns.

It's rare that Ezekiel Elliott has a game like he did on Sunday and it goes largely unnoticed by Cowboys Nation, but that's just how tremendous Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper were. In a game where the Cowboys got big games and big plays through the passing game, it was Elliott's steadiness that held things together and helped sustain drives like the fourth and one conversion in overtime. Even with Amari Cooper elevating his game since coming to the Cowboys, there's no question that Ezekiel Elliott is the Cowboys best skill position player. Expect more big games for Elliott as the Cowboys continue to "Feed Zeke."



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