Sometime ago, amidst this Smartphone-tranced alternative world, all cognitive thought and deductive reasoning ceased. The greater the technology, the dumber we seem to become.
And nowhere has it been more pronounced than in the third-world dimension known as sports journalism. AP Stylebooks used to litter newsrooms like qualifiers in a Cialis ad, but it'd take Indiana Jones to find such a relic under all the dust and debris these days.
(Pardon me, hold that thought, I just got a tweet. Oh never mind, Adam Schefter just broke the news that the Jaguars might sign a tackle, but might not, but they might. Good to know.)
The rules now, well, there are no rules.
Reporters tweet rumors practically as fact to intentionally gluttonous degrees, from so many angles and sources that they can barely be tracked. We're left to wonder who said what about whom and when. It's impossible to sort through the smoke to find the real fires anymore. We remember almost nothing about anything that we heard or read.
(So what's this I hear about Jacksonville? I can't remember.)
Anyway, ProFootballTalk just ranked the Cowboys at No. 24 in the league. ESPN applied a 28th "future ranking" to the Cowboys. This qualifies in this bent industry as actual "analysis", based on....I suppose a Fantasy Football expert or something. Not sure.
Stop and consider. Here's a team that has gone 8-8, 8-8, and 8-8 the past three seasons, with the same QB as now, the same coach, and the same GM. That there is a trend, folks, one that should comfortably and concretely put Dallas right at or very near No. 16.
Now, add a guard to a good young line and an offense that is safely in the top 10 in the league. Then, replace a cupboard full of nobodies with at least 10 legitimate NFL defensive linemen, as well as the return of healthy starters behind them. How can that not be at least slightly better than that awful defense a year ago? Objectivity says it likely can't.
From all that, two very popular sources of opinion just determined that Dallas is worse than the Cleveland Browns. Huh?
The truth is, the media now allows itself unapologetically to let its "analysis" reflect the true want of its analysts, rather than their observed thought. There's not a whiff of science to it at all. Add an insatiable thirst for stirring up public outcry and cock fights, as well as utter detest of doing any real work. I swear, none of these folks do any research beyond talking to each other and forming a collective agreed-upon opinion.
Sadly, this is the case in almost every arena anymore, the message is geared for the toothless and tattooed minions and lemmings who ask few questions and take up pitchforks on hint of a rumored whisper. Little attention is paid to those that pay attention.
Just watch the reaction by week 3 when Denver and the media figure out what we already know about DeMarcus Ware. Note the spin as their beloved Patriots and Giants derail. And watch how the "Cinderella Cowboys" inexplicably end up middle of the pack or better and shock them all to their dissatisfaction.
However, that will again morph later into "Dallas has one of the most talented rosters in the league", as usual, then they'll lament how underperforming again the Cowboys are. Of course, there'll be no reference to that 28th-ranking they prescribed a few months prior. You can throw it in their face, but they'll ignore you. PFT runs so many stories per minute, good luck ever finding that 24th ranking again.
Journalists often carry a chip because they don't feel properly compensated or worshiped for their self-acknowledged immense talents. They pour the scars of their youth into thinly veiled vitriol and a disturbing love for poking bears in cages with sharp sticks. They care little anymore about doing right by their trade and name.
I believe we should call them on it at every turn. Thus, this rant. We should also largely ignore them, and not fall for the bloody meat they leave laying in our path. We won't, but we should.
And the worst part is, these are just the sports journalists. But that's another session for another forum and another day.
[su_spoiler title="Editor's Note" style="simple"]Erod joins us from the forums of DallasCowboys.com as a first-time contributor with a piece he originally posted on the forums July 11, 2014.[/su_spoiler]
Tony Pollard is Just What the Doctor Ordered in Dallas
The Dallas Cowboys have what many believe to be the best running back in the NFL in Ezekiel Elliott. However, you can never undervalue the importance of depth at any position. When the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft came around, the Cowboys added another weapon to the backfield by selecting Tony Pollard out of Memphis.
If you’re looking for a dynamic player maker with the ability to take it to the house at any given moment, Pollard is your man. The former Tiger averaged a touchdown every 13 touches in college. That’s an absolutely insane statistic when you think about it. He also tied an NCAA record with seven kick returns for touchdowns. Long story short, he can get you six points at the blink of an eye.
The versatility in his game is outrageous and undoubtedly the reason why he was drafted. In addition to running for 941 yards on 6.8 yards per rush, he also had 104 receptions for 1,292 yards. New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has to be salivating about the possibilities with his new toy. Having a running back that can not only carry the load as a runner but also line up at receiver keeps the defense honest. You never know what angle the offense is going to come from.
This has to be a sigh of relief for Ezekiel Elliott. Now, the Cowboys don’t have to overexert him and can bring Pollard in on third downs if need be. Not just to give Elliott a breather but to change the pace of the offensive attack. You can hand the ball off, throw it to him or run jet sweeps when he is on the field. This sets up a potential combo at running back that could be the leagues very best shortly.
Speed, quickness, and agility are all wrapped up in the Tony Pollard package. The Cowboys now have a running back that can line up at multiple positions if need be. Also, this prevents a lot of unnecessary wear and tear on the body of Ezekiel Elliott. This combination has all the potential to set the NFL on fire in 2019.
CB Byron Jones Not Expected To Return Until Week 1 Against NYG
Coming off what was clearly the best season of his career thus far, Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones underwent surgery to hopefully fix a nagging hip injury.
While he earned both his first All Pro and Pro Bowl honors in 2018, his first season as a full-time cornerback, Jones still has a lot to prove in the upcoming season. Some still criticize him for his lack of interceptions, and there's no doubt his stellar play slowed down a bit towards the end of the year.
I'm willing to wager that the slight decline had a lot to do with his hip troubles, but nonetheless he must come up with his elite level play once again to earn himself a nice contract somewhere in 2020.
Oh, did I forget to mention it's also a contract year for Byron Jones? As it is for so many important Dallas Cowboys, it seems.
So when will Byron Jones be able to return to the Cowboys' lineup? Well, the initial date reportedly set by Jones and the team was late July, giving him a chance to practice and play a bit before the season opener in September. But, according to the Team Site this week, that date may be pushed back a bit, and we might not see Byron Jones until that season opening game against the Giants.
"As for Jones, all along the Cowboys have been targeting his return for the season opener, but hopefully at that. So, don’t expect to see much of Jones in training camp, and if so, certainly no more than individual and walk-through drills." - Mickey Spagnola
Ultimately, as long as Byron Jones is good to go when the regular season starts, that's all that matters, but the fear of rust when Jones returns is a real one.
It's tough to go from no live football straight to the meaningful games, but if anyone would be able to do it it would be the guy with the freakishly athletic traits. The guy who can get out of the bed in the morning and set athletic records at the Combine.
And, of course, that guy is Byron Jones.
Dak Prescott: Calm Under Pressure
When the 2016 NFL Draft came around the Dallas Cowboys were in search of the heir apparent to Tony Romo. Unfortunately, coming off an injury-plagued 2015 season, Romo would find himself on the shelf again after suffering a broken bone in his back during a preseason game against the Seahawks. However, the Cowboys had an ace in the hole, in the form of Dak Prescott who they drafted in the fourth round.
The idea was the groom him for a few years before taking the keys to the car so to speak from Romo, but fate had another idea in mind. Prescott would be thrust into the starting lineup against one of the Cowboys most hated rivals to start the season, the New York Giants. Added to that, was the pressure of living up to Romo's stellar resume as the franchise's all-time leading passer. After struggling in a tough 20-19 loss, no surprise there for a rookie quarterback, Prescott began to take flight.
Over the next eleven games he wouldn't suffer a single loss as the Cowboys were sitting pretty at 11-1. What made this streak more impressive was the efficiency of Prescott. He threw 19 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions over that span. In the process, he set an NFL record for the most passing attempts to start a career without an interception with 176. This broke the previous record held by Tom Brady of 162. It didn't stop there, as he also set a rookie record for completion percentage (67.8), was named Offensive Rookie of the Year and was selected to the Pro Bowl.
The Cowboys would finish 13-3 and win the NFC East. With home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and the franchise only winning two postseason games in 21 years, Prescott was definitely under the microscope. After the offense struggled to produce points in the first half and fell behind 21-3, Prescott lead a furious comeback. Helping the team storm all the way back to tie the game at 28 and again at 31. He finished with 302 yards and 3 touchdowns in his first playoff start against future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers. Even though the team lost 34-31, Prescott proved how much of a gamer he was as he basically went yard for yard and point for point with one of the NFL's elite signal-callers. It was clear the Cowboys were in good hands going forward.
2017 started off well as the Cowboys were 5-3 and firmly on pace for another playoff run. Unfortunately, All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott lost his fierce battle with the NFL over domestic violence allegations, and Dak along with the offense struggled. After a 9-7 season and falling one game short of a Wild Card berth, the pressure on Prescott heading into the next season was immense.
Once 2018 came about Prescott had more pressure than ever with Elliott back for a full season. After a slow 3-4 start the Cowboys traded for Pro-Bowl Wide Receiver Amari Cooper, providing the team with it's first true number one receiver since Dez Bryant. Putting even more expectations on Prescott to turn things around, and boy did he ever.
He would complete 71.6% of his passes in the final eight games of the season, and the Cowboys won seven to finish 10-6. Now, with another division title under his belt, came a playoff matchup with Super Bowl-winning Quarterback Russell Wilson.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys were hanging on to a 17-14 lead. They faced a 3rd and 14 inside the redone with just over two minutes left. After dropping back a few steps, Prescott scrambled for 16 yards setting up a first and goal from the one-yard line. The team held on for a 24-22 victory but here's why that scramble was so important.
If the Cowboys don't convert that 3rd and long that would've set up a field goal attempt. Assuming it would have been successful, that would've only put them up 20-14. Giving Seattle a chance to more than likely win with a touchdown and an extra point or two-point conversion. Prescott essentially won the game with that 3rd down run. Proving once again there's no situation he can't handle.
He's set an NFL record for completion percentage in the first three years of a quarterbacks career at 66.1 percent. No quarterback has won more games than him since 2016 except Tom Brady. No one has more game-winning drives than him since he entered the league. His 13 primetime victories are tops in the NFL over the last three seasons. Simply put, Dak Prescott is a winner and doesn't fold under pressure, instead, he embraces it. There are no bigger lights in the NFL than the ones that shine in Dallas. With those lights come huge expectations and pressure, and it's clear this young man is made of the right stuff to handle it.
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