Hello Dallas Cowboys Nation. It’s been some time since we’ve all been so proud and full of celebratory bliss but the time now is nice. The Cowboys knocked the Eagles off the top of the NFC East to claim sole possession of it themselves, and did so not by simply being the team to make the fewest mistakes on the field, but the team that dominated the game just enough to prevail the victors.
105.3 FM “The Fan” aired the word “substance” often Monday morning. They weren’t talking about drugs or media coverage though, well they did but we’ll get to that later. They remarked that the Cowboys won that game with substance, meaning they had a plan and executed it. They saw the obstacles and overcame them. They played good and sound football to win the game.
Sure, the running game was a little weak until the fourth quarter, and you wouldn’t really expect that from the triple threat combo of Marion Barber, Tashard Choice, and Felix Jones, but it happened. In the fourth quarter though, Barber came out and did exactly what he is best at doing – dominating and punishing a worn out defense in the final 15 minutes to control the clock. That’s the role he is most suited for, the closer, and the coaches should be more mindful of that the next time he takes a first quarter handoff and runs into the dozen players waiting for him up the middle. Getting knocked on his butt isn’t really the ideal way to win games.
Miles Austin was rather absent for much of the game as well. He was thrown to maybe 4 times and had but one catch, albeit for a touchdown over 30 yards. And keep in mind that his touchdown was the game winner … again.
But perhaps the biggest story of the game as far as the players go comes down to Tony Romo and Roy Williams finally showing some signs of meshing, of finding that elusive same page, and making something happen with it.
Just as Wade Phillips said, and others … It did appear that many of the passes to Williams before Sunday were either too high, thrown behind, or simply not where he was. Most of us would likely agree, regardless of any personal feelings against Romo, that an experienced quarterback is going to know pretty well where the route goes, so does that mean that Williams has been to blame? Maybe.
Williams caught something like 5 of 7 balls for 75 yards Sunday night in Philly and while it wasn’t a spectacular performance by any means, unless you’re the Browns, it was solid and that is what we’ve needed more of from our number 1 receiver – solid play.
If he plays solid and runs good routes and even catches half of the passes directed toward him, he’ll likely continue to see enough double coverage’s to help Witten, Bennett, Crayton, Austin, Hurd, and even Ogletree. Not to mention the benefits for the running game. So while it again was nothing worthy of praise, it was a long overdue spark to the chemistry that he and Romo must develop for this team to achieve anything beyond a divisional title this year.
And let’s face it, the Cowboys only winning the NFC East this year will be considered a bust for the season, and rightly so. We’ve won the division a few times since 1996 – the last time we won a playoff game. So doing so this year wouldn’t amount to anything more than the same and maintaining status quo this year will be the only sure fire way to lose Wade Phillips his title of Head Coach.
Which brings me to a brief mention of The Fan’s topic on firing Wade. The local press around here has been calling for Wade’s dismissal as recently as the week following the Kansas City game. Granted, that game should have been a blow out, an easy win for us, even if the team was supposed to view it as anything but that – easy.
We struggled in all aspects of that game including making the fourth quarter stop to put the game away, sending it into overtime. But the one great thing that came out of that game was that in our times of trouble, Miles Austin was given a real shot to make a play, and did he ever accomplish that.
He played so good in that game, setting a franchise record or two in the process, that he booted Crayton as the #2 guy immediately. Funny thing about that though, this team has been lacking so much of what makes a team a team. But as soon as Crayton is relegated to the third spot, he didn’t just sulk and make snide comments to the media like he and others have done before when unhappy. No, he went out instead and made the most of his remaining duties.
Two weeks in a row, Mr. Consistent who usually averages only 10 yards on punt returns goes and breaks one for six. Who would have ever saw that coming? That’s a teammate right there. Basically in the dog house and he just works harder and ends up making two huge plays in an area of the game that has been seriously raunchy up until this year – special teams.
So I’m pretty happy about this team right now. So much so that I’ve had to watch myself so that I don’t get too excited. I really think we’re playing like a Team that’s ready to compete for the Lombardi Trophy. And a game into November I don’t expect anything to change right away, not until after the Thanksgiving game against Oakland – not until we hit December.
It’s time to see if this team finding some of its identity and unity is enough to not only win games, but win in December and beyond. Let us hope.
Dallas Cowboys Head Toward NFL Draft with No Glaring Needs
When the offseason began after the Dallas Cowboys fell to the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round of the playoffs, it was clear that they were a team on the rise, but had several areas they needed to address as free agency and the draft approached.
The team had holes or depth issues at safety, defensive tackle, swing tackle, wide receiver, defensive end, and tight end. Through the first two weeks of free agency, the Dallas Cowboys have taken care of each of those areas.
With the signings of George Iloka, Christian Covington, Cameron Fleming, Randall Cobb, Tavon Austin, Kerry Hyder, and Jason Witten, The Dallas Cowboys have set themselves up to approach the draft with “clear eyes and a full heart.”
As they head into April with the NFL Draft looming, the Cowboys won’t be held back by positional need and can allow their draft board to do the work for them and just add good players. It’s an excellent position to be in as they don’t have to reach for a player at a position of need they may not like as much because they have a veteran presence filling that need.
Backup running back appears to be the only position where the Cowboys could use some depth, but that player for this team is more of a special teams player who gets limited snaps on offense because of the greatness of Ezekiel Elliott. It’s generally a position where there is a lot of talent deep in the draft and undrafted free agent pool, which allows the Cowboys to be patient filling that need behind the NFL’s leading rusher.
Mother than that, if the Dallas Cowboys has to go play a football game and win today, they’d be in great shape to do so.
On the flip side, however, the Cowboys can still add players at defensive tackle, wide receiver, tight end, safety, and defensive end because they aren’t restricted by big contracts to those veteran players. Each of them came to the Cowboys on one-year deals. The veterans that they signed would prohibit them from drafting at that same position, and that’s the point.
The Cowboys have created a formula that works really well for them. Sometimes it get frustrating watching the team not make any big splashes in free agency, especially that first week when other teams are bringing in big-name players to add to their rosters. That formula has led them to a 48-32 record over the last five seasons with three NFC East titles, and two playoff wins, and three divisional round appearances.
And the playoff runs could have been deeper with a bit of luck and correct officiating.
The Dallas Cowboys have set themselves up really well as they now set their sights on the NFL Draft at the end of April. Though they won’t have a first round pick to add to their talent pool, the Cowboys have shown that they can find talent in the second round and beyond. This year will be no different.
Now it’s time to sit back and trust the process.
Cowboys Have Had Quiet, Yet Successful, Free Agency
Yet another free agency without a big splash by the Dallas Cowboys. What a surprise. Despite entertaining Earl Thomas rumors for a long, long time, the Cowboys' front office has stuck with its philosophy of not overpaying free agents and building the team mainly through the NFL Draft. However, they've actually had some pretty good signings over the last few days that will really benefit the Cowboys when the season comes around.
They've done so with inexpensive free agents who will contribute at a high level on their respective positions. Sure, top free agent signings are fun. But many times, they end up backfiring to teams for spending so much money in one single player. At the end of the day, the Cowboys' way has gotten the team three NFC East Championships since 2014. Many factors come into play, but their team building philosophy can't be as bad as many claim it to be.
The most recent acquisition came in form of former Cincinnati Bengal and Minnesota Viking Safety George Iloka. The Cowboys had a desperate need at the defensive backfield and finally they've done something about it. On a heavy safety market, the Cowboys sat tight while watching the top free agents get top contracts around the league, including Landon Collins' record breaking deal with the Washington Redskins.
Now, they've gotten a guy who can play both safety positions. I'll be surprised if he doesn't take Jeff Heath's job. He's played as a free safety most of his career but being a good tackler, he should do a good job in the box. Iloka will also shine on special teams in Dallas.
So far, my favorite signing may be that of former Green Bay Packer, Randall Cobb. The Cowboys had an important need at the wide receiver position despite counting with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup leading the room. Cole Beasley is a tough guy to replace and although Cobb may not be a better slot receiver than him, he certainly has the experience and the skill set to be a starting slot WR. What's more, he'll only cost the Cowboys five million while Beasley got a four year deal with which he'll earn $17M over the first two years.
Cole Beasley will be missed, but the good thing is the front office did a pretty good job at filling the concerning hole on offense. Cooper, Gallup and Cobb are definitely not a bad starting trio to have.
Other under the radar moves will also help the Cowboys. Kerry Hyder may not be a well-known in the NFL but he'll surely contribute to this defensive line as a rotational player. Hyder had eight sacks in 2016 with the Detroit Lions before suffering an Achilles injury in 2017 and dealing with a scheme change last season. Hyder will surely be happy about being back to a 4-3 defense in Dallas.
Christian Covington was another overlooked signing. Covington will help on the interior of the defensive line and although he'll likely not be a starter, he'll be an important piece in the rotation for a very reasonable contract ( also a one-year deal).
For a football team that's constantly criticized for not being active in free agency, the Cowboys have done something at pretty much every position where they need help. Safety, defensive end, defensive tackle, wide receiver and tight end have all been addressed this offseason prior to the NFL Draft. This will give them great flexibility in April and could lead to a pretty good "best player available" strategy.
Now granted, there are still concerns regarding the young "to be extended" group of players. DeMarcus Lawrence hasn't reached an agreement with the Cowboys and will continue to postpone surgery until he does. If the front office doesn't strike a contract with the star pass rusher, it won't be possible to consider this offseason a good one no matter what happens. Dallas can't let him leave.
In the meantime though, they've had a pretty quiet yet successful March. And they're not done yet. Robert Quinn could end up wearing the Star if a trade with the Miami Dolphins does end up taking place. We'll see if the Cowboys continue to build on an already pretty good free agency.
BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Sign Free Agent Safety George Iloka
The Dallas Cowboys have reached a one-year agreement with Safety George Iloka, according to ESPN's Todd Archer. Iloka spent 2018 with the Vikings after six years with the Bengals.
He's started 79 of his 99 career games since being a fifth-round pick by Cincinnati in 2012. Iloka turns 29 years old next week.
The Cowboys have agreed to a one-year deal with safety George Iloka, according to a source. Iloka met with the Cowboys on Friday and was the third safety to meet with the club during the week along with Clayton Geathers and Eric Berry. The Cowboys have... https://t.co/JB5nJLWepc
This isn't the safety that most Cowboys fans wanted. After over a year of pining for Earl Thomas, sights turned to Eric Berry after his free agent visit in Dallas last week.
However, it makes sense that Iloka would be attractive to the Cowboys. At 6'4" and 225 lbs, he fits the physical mold of what Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard likes in his players. He also is younger than Berry and Thomas without the same recent injury issues.
Iloka becomes one of many Boise St. products on Dallas' roster, joining Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch, and others. He entered the league with college teammates Crawford and Kellen Moore, the Cowboys' new offensive coordinator, in 2012.
We'll have to wait and see how George Iloka fits into the current mix at safety with Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods. He spent most of 2018 as a backup with Minnesota, but Dallas will likely give him a chance to start.
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