Welcome to this week's edition of Martin's 5!
The Dallas Cowboys really have absolutely nothing to play for this week against the Philadelphia Eagles, so the most important thing to them should be protecting their players from suffering any kind of injuries that would put them in jeopardy of being available for the playoffs.
It is no secret that the Eagles absolutely hate anything and everything about the Dallas Cowboys. They will be doing their best to finish the season on a high note, just like they did last week against the New York Giants.
You could say that the Eagles pretty much dominated the New York Giants last week, the only team that has beaten the Cowboys, a fact I'm sure the Eagles are well aware of.
Another dominating win over a division foe could go a long ways in building the confidence of the organization for next season, especially since they could be the only team in the NFC East to miss the playoffs this year.
So, you can bet the Philadelphia Eagles will be on their "A" game Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.
Having said all that, here is the five things I'm wondering about this week. I hope you enjoy.
One: Although it was several seasons ago, Jerry Jones and even Jason Garrett still have that 2007 season fresh in their minds about the disappointing early exit from the playoffs. That is why they have said that they plan on playing their starters in hopes of carrying that momentum into the postseason. What I'm wondering is how much we will see Dak Prescott and other key members of the team play against the Philadelphia Eagles this weekend? The offensive line will already be without Tyron Smith because of a MCL sprain he suffered against the Detroit Lions last week, so that leaves Prescott's blindside a little bit more exposed. If I'm Jason Garrett and the coaching staff, I'm keeping a close eye on how the protection is holding up for #4 and whether or not he is taking unnecessary hits. I'm not going to risk him getting banged up for a meaningless game. I would honestly treat this like a preseason game by getting the starters a little work, but closely monitoring who might need a little extra rest.
Two: As much as I wanted to see Ezekiel Elliott challenge Eric Dickerson's rookie rushing record, it unfortunately doesn't seem as if it is all that important to him or the Dallas Cowboys. The coaching staff decided to give the majority of the second half carries to Darren McFadden against the Detroit Lions, even though a few more big gains by Elliott would have put him within range of legitimately breaking Dickerson's record. I wonder if Elliott will end up regretting not being more adamant about trying to break the record? I know he is saying the right thing right now by focusing on the team goals, but to fall short of a record that has stood for so long after being so close has to weigh on his mind just a little bit. I don't expect Ezekiel Elliott to receive very many carries against the Philadelphia Eagles this week. I think Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris will handle the majority of the workload. I expect Elliott to receive 10-15 carries at most.
Three: The Dallas Cowboys announced that Mark Sanchez will be the backup for Dak Prescott this week against the Philadelphia Eagles. It's not all that surprising if you consider that they have been pretty adamant about protecting Tony Romo against injury so that he is available in the postseason if needed. But, what I'm wondering is how much different the offense will look with Sanchez at QB? Sanchez has some mobility, but nothing like Prescott. It will be really interesting to see how offensive coordinator Scott Linehan tries to play to the strengths of Sanchez, especially against the Philadelphia Eagles who have been pretty good about getting after opposing QB's. I've heard several people who would like to see Mark Sanchez return next season to be the backup QB to Dak Prescott, so this could give us a glimpse of the future the QB position.
Four: Mark Sanchez might not be the only one auditioning for a roster spot with the Dallas Cowboys in the future. Emmett Cleary, the Cowboys swing tackle the season, could also make a case for continuing his career with the organization. Cleary is in his second season in the NFL out of Boston College and will be playing left tackle in place of the injured Tyron Smith this week against the Eagles. This will be a tough task for Cleary, because the Eagles have one of the better defensive lines in the NFL. I'm sure the Cowboys will give him a little extra help, but there will be times where he will have to win some one-on-one battles. If Cleary performs pretty well, he could earn a future roster spot with the Cowboys, which could be a big bonus for the organization because of the lack of depth at the position. Doug Free is signed through 2017, Chaz Green can't stay healthy, so Tyron Smith is the only one that can really be counted on in the future. Don't be surprised if this is a position of need once the draft comes around.
Five: The Dallas Cowboys have secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, but I'm wondering how much of an advantage the hometown crowd can give the Cowboys? We have seen in the past that the crowd isn't always dominated by Cowboys fans. This could be the year where season-ticket holders don't sell their tickets and are actually attending the games. This team has been exciting from the get-go and Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott have a lot to do with that. Teams around the NFL hate going on the road and playing in places like Arrowhead Stadium and CenturyLink Stadium because of the crowd noise. Maybe with the excitement surrounding this year's team the Cowboys can turn their stadium into one of those types of venues. We can only hope that is the case, because it could go a long ways in helping the Dallas Cowboys hold an advantage over their opponents.
Is there anything you are wondering about this week?
Please feel free to use the comment section below to share anything you're wondering about this week.
Where In The World Is DE Taco Charlton?
Over pretty much the last decade, the Dallas Cowboys have been rock solid with their first round picks. With selections of Ezekiel Elliott, Travis Frederick, Byron Jones, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Leighton Vander Esch (just to name a handful), Dallas has rebuilt the core of their roster through the NFL Draft.
It's nearly impossible to bat .1000 in any round of the draft, however, and this appears to be the current case with the Cowboys' 2017 first round pick.
Defensive end Taco Charlton has not had the sophomore season that he, or anyone, had hoped for. A healthy scratch last Sunday, Charlton has only been active for 1 of the Cowboys' last 5 games, and has not recorded a sack or tackle since week 9.
Prior to disappearing with injuries and "attitude issues," Charlton had only recorded 1 sack on the season and was beginning to fall behind his Hot Boy-brethren. Defensive end Randy Gregory has reached his form over the last few weeks, Tyrone Crawford is having arguably a career year, and DeMarcus Lawrence is one of the best ends in all of football.
This doesn't leave much room for Charlton, who's now having issues even getting on the gameday roster. Rod Marinelli dodged questions about Taco Charlton earlier this week, vaguely saying they are "moving forward" and that he'd like to talk about other players on his defensive line who are performing.
Rod Marinelli on Taco Charlton's benching and being inactive last week: "We just keep moving along keep going forward. It's kinda been out there I'd leave it at that. I'd rather talk about our two tackles.
Charlton has not been quiet about his displeasure as of late, either. He's taken to Twitter to voice his frustrations, saying that not only is his shoulder fine but that the Dallas media is making up stories about his absence. He's also posted some cryptic tweets such as this one, with a picture of Allen Iverson and a caption reading "Every players needs that one coach to believe in them."
Maybe Taco is right. Maybe he just needs increased opportunity and a support system/coach that believes in him whole-heartedly. After all, Charlton has faced nothing but doubters and detractors since the second he was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.
But in the NFL, the ultimate "what have you done for me lately" sport, it's hard to imagine he'll get that unwavering support anywhere in the league. He's going to have to "earn" his playing time, as head coach Jason Garrett spoke to earlier in the week. But with the plethora of talent the Cowboys are already putting out there on the defensive line, it's becoming difficult to see exactly where Taco Charlton can fit in on this defense.
It's possible, and fine, if it is simply not a fit between Charlton and the Cowboys at this point. But I'd also be wary of giving up on your first round pick in just his second NFL season. Another offseason with the team, working on his craft and getting fully healthy, should do Charlton wonders, and hopefully allow us to get a better read on his future with the Cowboys going forward.
Until then, we are all left to scratch out heads and wonder what in the world is going on with the Cowboys and Taco Charlton, and if the former first round pick will have a future in Dallas at all.
Cowboys, Bears Proving Defense Can Win the NFC
2018 has seen the emergence of high-powered offenses in both NFL conferences. The Kansas City Chiefs sit atop the AFC and the NFC is spearheaded by the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams. Through 14 weeks, these three teams are the top three offenses in the NFL, each averaging over 30 points per game. This year, for the first time in NFL history, two teams scored more than 50 in the same game.
Thanks to this consistent impressive offensive performances, you would think "offense" is the name of the game for the 2018 NFL season. Well, not so fast, my friend. Despite sitting atop the NFC, the Saints and the Rams have recently suffered losses that indicate hope is anything but lost for defensive teams in the league.
The Chicago Bears were able to bring down the Rams last Sunday Night 15-6. The same offense that averages 33 points per game was limited to six points. Sean McVay's remarkable offense went home with no touchdowns to talk about on the plane back home. Instead, they probably discussed Jared Goff's four interceptions.
Weeks earlier, the Dallas Cowboys shocked the world when they brought down the Saints. Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas simply couldn't move the ball against Leighton Vander Esch, DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones. 13 points were all the Cowboys needed to score to beat an offense that was averaging 37 per game heading into week 13 but was only able to put up 10 in Dallas.
The Cowboys are the #4 seed with the Bears slightly ahead of them as the #3 seed in the NFC. Together, these teams have defeated the top two in the conference. Now granted, playoffs will definitely be different.
For starters, if they are to advance to the divisional round, they'll be on the road. Chicago was surely benefited by playing in such a cold weather versus a Los Angeles team. As far as the Cowboys are concerned, few times has AT&T Stadium been as loud as when they beat the Saints.
Hopefully, we'll get to see both of these elite defenses advance to the Divisional Round to square off against this couple of high-powered offenses again. We will not only be witnessing amazing football games, but a great discussion regarding the everlasting debate between offense and defense.
For years, "defense wins championships" has been a widely accepted statement in football. The Cowboys and Bears have made that same statement resound recently with their impressive wins.
Can they do it again in January football? Can they do it on the road?
Cowboys en Español: Los Colts No Son Cualquier Rival
Al igual que el resto de la afición de los Dallas Cowboys, parte de mí se siente confiada respecto a este equipo visitando a Indianapolis Colts y resultando victoriosos. ¿El problema? Los Colts no son un rival sencillo de vencer. Si crees que la racha de los Cowboys los intimidará, piensa de nuevo. Los Houston Texans llevaban nueve victorias al hilo antes de enfrentarse a este equipo.
Siendo objetivos, este puede ser el partido que evite que los Cowboys cierren su temporada con ocho victorias al hilo para terminar el año con un récord de 11-5. Ni los Tampa Bay Buccaneers ni los New York Giants deberían presentar amenaza alguna contra Dallas. Lo mismo no se puede decir de Indianapolis.
Por primera vez en mucho tiempo, Andrew Luck está realmente de vuelta. Gracias a una reconstrucción de su línea ofensiva, su nivel de juego a regresado al nivel que conocíamos de él desde que llegó a la NFL. Afortunadamente para los Colts, Luck se ha mantenido sano toda la temporada y no se ve rastro alguno de sus lesiones anteriores en el emparrillado.
T.Y. Hilton está teniendo un muy buen año y sin duda alguna presentará un reto para Byron Jones y el resto de la secundaria de los Cowboys. Eric Ebron en la posición de tight end también será un dolor de cabeza para la defensiva.
Lo más interesante se dará en las trincheras. Los Cowboys han hecho un muy buen trabajo presionando quarterbacks opuestos en la temporada, pero si el centro de los Colts, Ryan Kelly está sano el domingo, se enfrentarán al mejor duo de centro-guardia en la liga actualmente. Con Quenton Nelson al lado, Luck estará muy bien protegido.
Sin embargo, Kelly no ha jugado debido a una lesión y aún está por verse si tomará el campo el domingo por la mañana. Los Cowboys hicieron un muy buen trabajo a la entonces ofensiva #1 de la liga, los New Orleans Saints, pero eso no significa que la ofensiva #8 que tienen los Colts no los retará.
Promediando 27 puntos por juego, la defensiva necesitará ayuda de Dak Prescott y compañía para ganar el partido. Dallas continúa moviendo el balón efectivamente, pero es tiempo de anotar touchdowns y no goles de campo.
Ezekiel Elliott será, una vez más, clave para la victoria. Enfrentándose a una defensiva Top 10 contra el juego terrestre, mover las cadenas con Zeke no será tan fácil. El novato Darius Leonard como linebacker ha sido algo espectacular otra temporada al igual que Leighton Vander Esch. Liderando a toda la NFL en tackleadas, estará listo para recibir a los Cowboys al Lucas Oil Stadium.
Lo más importante de este partido...
Por más impresionante que sea la racha de cinco victorias consecutivas, los Cowboys tienen que demostrar que pueden ganarle a un equipo fuerte estando de visita. Porque hay que admitirlo, Jason Garrett y su equipo no han tenido éxito fuera de casa. Claro, le ganaron a un equipo debilitado de Philadelphia Eagles y a unos Atlanta Falcons que va 4-9.
Este equipo "nuevo" de los Cowboys no ha ido contra un rival de calidad siendo el visitante. Es tiempo de demostrar que lo pueden hacer, ya que si quieren contender en postemporada, es justo lo que necesitarán... jugar bien de visita.
Sinceramente creo que los Cowboys ganan este partido. Principalmente gracias a su defensiva, pero también veo a la ofensiva dominar el tiempo de posesión en un juego de pocos puntos. Es tiempo de mantener esa racha.
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