The 2017 Dallas Cowboys have been a very dramatic football team, on and off the field. Among suspensions, injuries and devastating losses, things have been way more tense than expected. But the Cowboys are not the only ones with their fair share of drama in the NFC East.
This Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys will head to New York to face a Giants team that's coming from a week of housecleaning. After a 2-10 start, not only was HC Ben McAdoo fired from the organization, but the Giants decided to part ways with their general manager, Jerry Reese.
Throughout all of this drama, Eli Manning's 210 consecutive starts streak was snapped thanks to McAdoo's decision to bench the veteran QB. Naturally, players, fans and the media didn't take this too well, and understandably so.
Even as a die-hard Cowboys fan, it's inevitable to feel bad for Manning. The Giants benched him for Geno Smith. Maybe, if they had benched Eli to give Davis Webb a bit of playing time, the reaction wouldn't have been as bad.
But Geno? Well, that kind of move gets you fired, and it did. It's been a dramatic situation, no doubt. A situation that brought a question to my mind.
Is this the last time the Manning-led Giants face the Dallas Cowboys?
It may sound extreme, but both the Giants and Eli could be interested in parting ways. Even with McAdoo out of the picture, the team will likely be looking at the QB position in the first round of the Draft, and Manning might just be looking for a chance with a team like the Jaguars or even the Broncos.
It'd be a very interesting scenario and it would only add more uncertainty to the QB market this offseason, but perhaps it's possible.
Although this is a Dallas Cowboys blog, I thought of writing about this. You see, the thing about players like Manning is that they're always there. As a very young fan, I don't remember watching football without him in the picture.
We've witnessed amazing duels between these two teams. We've seen Romo come back from behind in 2015, defeating the Giants... but we've seen Manning do similar things. More than once, Eli Manning ripped our hearts out.
I still remember the childish excitement I felt when the Cowboys played the first ever regular season game at the AT&T Stadium, then called Cowboys Stadium. I was only ten years old. Dallas was up 31-30, and with three and a half minutes to go, the Giants were holed up inside their own 15-yard line.
Manning drove the Giants offense down the field and and put his team in position to kick a game-winning 37-yard field goal as the clock went down to zero. After throwing for 330 yards and two touchdowns, Manning had ruined the Cowboys debut at Jerry World.
Not to mention when he threw for almost 350 yards and three touchdowns to win the division in the final game of the 2011 season. Or the time the Giants defeated the Cowboys in the divisional round of the 2007 playoffs.
As a life-long Cowboys fan, I've always "hated" Eli and the Giants. I'm sure most of Cowboys Nation does, too. The two-times Super Bowl MVP is often regarded as an elite QB and some would argue he isn't. Between Cowboys and Giants fans, the Tony Romo VS Eli Manning debate always existed.
But even if we hate Eli, we can't deny that in a way, we kind of enjoy the fact that he's around.
At the end of it all, we're football fans. And for a long time, Manning has made the Cowboys-Giants rivalry a even more special one. Every time our Cowboys are playing the Giants, I wake up a bit more excited than I usually do. It's not your usual game day... it's Cowboys vs Giants game day.
Whether we're willing to admit it or not, Eli is a big reason why these games are better. I'd dare say that without Manning, the rivalry wouldn't be as epic as it is today.
Who knows where Eli Manning will be playing in the future, but for know, we do know he'll be the starting QB versus the Cowboys next Sunday. Hopefully, he loses.
DL Kerry Hyder Impressive In Cowboys Week 2 Preseason Win
Kerry Hyder joined the Cowboys this offseason on a one year deal, and while the four-year NFL veteran has put up some solid tape in his time around the league, it was hard to project just what he could bring to the Cowboys defense.
Listed at 6'2" 270 pounds, Hyder is a bit of a tweener on the defensive line. Though the answer to "will he play tackle or end" seems to be "both" to this point in the preseason.
As he fights for his life on this deep defensive line, Kerry Hyder had himself a day in the Cowboys 14-10 victory over the Rams last weekend.
Hyder made an excellent play defending a screen pass in the first quarter, reading the play perfectly and reacting quickly to running back Darrell Henderson coming out of the backfield. Hyder also created some pressure on the quarterback, and finished with 3 combined tackles in very limited playing time.
Hyder's versatility is working well for him as he looks to make the final roster. Like a Tyrone Crawford type player, Hyder will be able to move inside and out depending on the situation. This allows the Cowboys to be flexible in how they structure their depth chart on defense, and in how they decide to rush the passer on third down.
A pass rushing package involving Robert Quinn and DeMarcus Lawrence on the edge with the combination of Hyder and Maliek Collins on the inside could turn out to be a very dangerous one for opposing offenses to deal with.
Rod Marinelli spoke to this versatility a couple of months ago, showing just how much he values what Kerry Hyder can bring to this team.
"Maybe you adjust him sometime, once in a while – in a one-on-one pass rush situation, stick him over a guard and start to get a feel for it.” - Rod Marinelli
Earlier this offseason, I wrote that Kerry Hyder could end up being Rod Marinelli's next great under-the-radar find on the defensive line. And if he continues to play with the hustle and awareness that he had on Saturday, he's going to make Rod look very smart in his evaluation.
Kerry Hyder is making it very difficult for the front office to let him go. And, at the end of the preseason, I do expect Kerry Hyder to find himself on the Cowboys' active roster. Especially considering how Mike White is playing at quarterback, and how his release could open up an extra spot at a different position group.
#DALvsRAMS: Tony Pollard Proves he’s no Longer Darrell Henderson’s Backup
For the better part of three years Tony Pollard was forced to play second fiddle to Darrell Henderson during their time with the Memphis Tigers. But, Saturday night in the second week of preseason Pollard emerged from the shadows and proved he's no longer Henderson's backup.
Tony Pollard put on an impressive show Saturday night against the Los Angeles Rams. He touched the ball a total of six times and turned it into 51 yards and a touchdown. He rushed for 42 yards on the ground, averaging 8.4 yards per carry, and had one reception for 9 yards. All in all it was an impressive performance and one that arguably outdid his former teammate, Darrell Henderson.
Tony Pollard is starting to look like a real weapon for the Dallas Cowboys. It's still a small sample size, but in the first two preseason games he's proven the jump up in competition isn't too big for him. As a runner he's been decisive, picking up what yardage is given and not dancing around. He hasn't been utilized much in the passing game yet, but that time will come.
The Dallas Cowboys couldn't be happier with the way their rookie RB has performed thus far. He's everything they've said he was, and quite possibly much more. Maybe those Alvin Kamara comparisons weren't that far off after all.
We all know Ezekiel Elliott will return to the Dallas Cowboys at some point, but for now Tony Pollard doesn't look completely out of place as their lead back. He still needs to work on his pass protection, but everything else he's been asked to do he's excelled at.
I don't know about you, but I'm excited about seeing what No. 36 can do when these games start to matter in 2019. He will once again have to accept a backup role like he did behind Darrell Henderson in college, but you can bet the Cowboys coaching staff will reward him based on his play so far in preseason.
Pollard's versatility to be a weapon as both a runner and receiver in the passing game should make him a unique chess piece in the offensive game plan each and every week. He's been exciting to watch so far and we haven't even seen him in the return game yet, which was a big part of his game in college. I'm personally expecting big things from him this season. What about you?
What do you think of Tony Pollard's preseason performance so far?
The Brady Report: Tony Pollard, Devin Smith Steal The Show On Offense
The Dallas Cowboys earned their first win of the 2019 preseason on Saturday night, defeating the Los Angeles Rams 14-10 in Hawaii.
Despite the low scoring affair, there were certainly standout performances from both offensive and defensive players for Dallas. Some who are looking to earn a roster spot, and others who are rather solidified in their place with the team.
Let's get into some of my game notes from the Cowboys preseason victory.
- Tony Pollard. I mean, I've said enough right? The rookie running back was awesome in his one drive of action Saturday night, rushing 5 times for 42 yards and a touchdown on the team's opening possession. Pollard was decisive, patient, and comfortable in the zone blocking scheme, and seemed to know exactly where and how to run on each rep. Pollard is looking like a complete back, rather than just a receiving threat for the Cowboys offense going forward.
- While undrafted free agents Jon'Vea Johnson and Jalen Guyton have garnered much of the attention, it was Devin Smith who impressed the most out of all the Cowboys' down-roster receivers this week. He caught 3 balls for just 24 yards, but had a fantastic touchdown grab from Cooper Rush in the third quarter.
- Speaking of Cooper Rush, he's your backup quarterback for the 2019 season. The coaching staff gave Mike White a chance to work with the 2's this week, allowing him equal ground for competition with Rush. But even with this opportunity, Mike White did not play well whatsoever. He's indecisive in the pocket, abandons clean protection, runs into pressure, and just looks kind of lost out there. Hopefully White can improve, but Rush is certainly deserving of the QB2 spot going forward.
- While Rush solidified his position as the QB2, QB1 Dak Prescott led another impressive drive on Saturday night. Prescott has command in the pocket and of the entire offense, and he orchestrated an excellent touchdown drive in his own possession this week. Prescott went 5/5 for 64 yards, but the highlight of the game for Prescott was his third and seven completion for 31 of those yards to Michael Gallup. He and Gallup seem to be connecting this preseason, and if that's going to happen regularly, look out.
- Now to the defense. Defensive tackle Maliek Collins continues to show signs that 2019 could be a career season for him. He was disruptive in limited playing time this week, and showcased a scary spin move on the inside. He can be an electric interior pass rusher for the Cowboys, and he looks to be "putting it all together" this year.
- Jourdan Lewis is too good to rot away on the bench, guys. Though he did get beat for decent completion in the first half, Lewis was also sound as a tackler and sticky in coverage once again this week. Lewis looks to be playing at the highest level we've seen from him yet, but once Byron Jones comes back he may not be getting the playing time he'd easily earn elsewhere. Dallas has a bit of an embarrassment of riches at cornerback right now, and Lewis just needs to keep competing every week.
- Lewis' Michigan teammate Taco Charlton had a decent night himself. While Dorance Armstrong has been the talk of the town at defensive end, Charlton deflected a pass at the line of scrimmage and was credited with 2 quarterback hits against the Rams. He wasn't creating the level of pressure you'd hope to see out of a former first round pick playing that deep into a preseason game, but you can tell he's looking a bit better as of late. Still, there's a whole heap of defensive ends on this roster who are flat out better than him right now.
- The Cowboys linebackers showed up to play on Saturday night. Of course, Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander-Esch are who they are, but Justin March-Lillard led the team in tackles with 6, and Justin Phillips came away with an exceptional interception in the third quarter. He made a play on the ball that you don't expect to see from any linebacker, let alone someone of his roster status. This is a really deep linebacker room, and there's a strong chance the Cowboys will have to let go of a good player.
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