Welcome to this week's edition of Martin's 5!
The Dallas Cowboys put together an impressive performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week on the road and improved to 8-1. This week they will face another AFC North division team when they take on the Baltimore Ravens at AT&T Stadium.
The Ravens quietly have one of the better defenses in the NFL, so it could be a tough test for the Cowboys offense if they aren't careful.
Honestly, the Baltimore Ravens don't really scare me that much, but you can't underestimate any team in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys have the momentum on their side and I look for them to come out and dominate once again.
Even though I'm nearly 100% confident they will beat the Baltimore Ravens this week, there are still quite a few things that are rambling around my head that I can't quit thinking about.
Luckily, this was the sole purpose of Martin's 5 and now I get to share them with you to hopefully get some answers, or at the very least get them out my head.
Below are the five things I'm wondering about this week. I hope you enjoy.
One: Tony Romo addressed the media Tuesday afternoon with a statement he prepared before hand. He didn't answer any questions, but he did speak from the heart. You could tell that he was visually shaken up and emotional while reading his statement, and the only thing I could think of while watching was whether or not his career in Dallas is over? I'll personally go on record as saying that I believe that Tony Romo is without a doubt the best quarterback on the Cowboys roster, and that in no way meant as a slap in the face to Dak Prescott. I'll even take this a step further and say that I don't think Prescott performs as well as he has been without Romo's help preparing him week in and week out. I would hate to see Romo's career end like this with the Dallas Cowboys. He has done so much for this organization and probably doesn't get the respect that he deserves.
Two: Let's stick with Tony Romo here for a little bit longer. If he is indeed active this week against the Baltimore Ravens, I wonder if offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will have some packages ready for Romo in the game plan for certain situations? Where Tony Romo improves this offense the most is in the passing game, so it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility see him brought in if the coaching staff believes he gives the offense the best chance to convert. I truly believe that Tony Romo makes this team better, but I'm not ready to hand the reins over with the way Dak Prescott has been playing. Maybe Romo can get a series or two in trash time because the Cowboys are completely dominating the Ravens late in the game.
Three: Ezekiel Elliott has been simply outstanding for the Dallas Cowboys this season and is still on pace to break Eric Dickerson's rookie rushing record. I wonder if he has now become the favorite to win NFL MVP. Elliott joins the likes of Eric Dickerson and Adrian Peterson as the only running backs to break the 1,000 yard mark in the first nine games of the season. If he continues to play this way, I don't see how he isn't the unanimous selection to win NFL MVP. Of course, Dak Prescott could have something to say about that if he continues to start and play the way he has been. Take a look people. This is our future for the Dallas Cowboys.
Four: When is enough enough? News broke a few days ago that Randy Gregory has failed yet another drug test, but somehow he is still on the Cowboys roster. I wonder if Jerry Jones and Company should make an example out of Gregory or if they will continue to stand by him while he works through his problems? Jones has shown in the past that he's willing to stick with talented players despite their off the field problems, but does Jason Garrett feel the same way? Garrett is still the head coach and should probably have the ultimate say in these types of decisions, but that's not the way Jerry Jones operates. This team is performing really well, and that has a lot to do with the fact they have been relatively drama free this year. The situation will definitely be worth keeping an eye on.
Five: Geoff Swaim tore his pectoral muscle in the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers and could possibly miss the remainder of the season. I wonder if his absence on the field will have a bigger impact on the offense then we would expect? Swaim has been reliable in the passing game when his number has been called, but his biggest impact on the offense is blocking in the running game. James Hanna isn't ready to rejoin the team after his knee surgery, so it looks like Gavin Escobar will replace Swaim in the lineup. Escobar is more of the receiving type of tight end and really struggles securing blocks in the running game. That is one of the reasons why he hasn't been utilized as much on offense. It will be really interesting to see how the coaching staff accounts for Swaim's absence and if it has a negative impact for the team. Maybe they activate Rico Gathers from their practice squad?
What are you wondering about this week?
Please feel free to use the comment section below to share with all of us anything you have on your mind this week.
Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?
February 20 is an important day for NFL clubs this year. Why? It's the first day in which teams can franchise tag any player. Since 2015, when the Dallas Cowboys tagged Dez Bryant before they were able to work out a long-term deal, Jerry Jones & Co. haven't used the franchise tag. In 2018, though, that will change.
DeMarcus Lawrence just played his best season yet in 2017, and he's looking to get paid big time. Through three years, he had been able to rack up nine sacks, 52 tackles and three forced fumbles. In just 2017, he sacked opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times, had 35 tackles and managed to force four fumbles.
Not only did Lawrence look like an elite pass rusher, but he also improved as a run defender a lot. The Cowboys have been looking for a "War Daddy" for a long, long time and Lawrence seems to be the answer for this football team.
After such a big year, one would expect the Cowboys to sign him to a multi-year enormous contract. But there's a catch. Lawrence failed to remain healthy early in his career and really didn't make as much of an impact until last season.
There's no question that D-Law will be wearing a star come the 2018 NFL season, but will he be doing it under a long-term deal or under a franchise tag?
Cowboys will not place franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence tomorrow as that window opens but will do so by March 6 w/ understanding the goal is to reach a long-term deal. Both sides have until July 16 to make that happen.
For now, according to David Moore from Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence with the objective of getting a deal done in July. The tag however, is not expected to be placed as soon as possible.
In 2015, the Cowboys didn't place the franchise tag on Dez Bryant until the final deadline day. This year's deadline is March 6th, so it may be two weeks before they make it official with DeMarcus Lawrence. #CowboysNation #DallasCowboys
What would franchise tagging DeMarcus Lawrence mean for this team?
First of all, they'd make sure he doesn't hit free agency in March. This gives the front office time to get to work and restructure players' contracts if they have to in order to open up as much cap space as they can before giving him a deal.
It's worth mentioning as well, cap savings from players who are designated as post-June 1 cuts will already be available. If you want to be more familiarized with the Cowboys' cap situation, I highly recommend you read John Williams' deep dive on the matter.
It'll continue to be a very interesting story for this offseason, as handing a franchise tag to a player tends to become a non-friendly situation for both parties. Let's hope that's not the case for the Cowboys and Lawrence this year and that everything works out fine.
Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue updating you and the rest of Cowboys Nation throughout the offseason.
Watch: Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith Goes Bowling for First Time Since College Injury
Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Jaylon Smith did not just defy all odds and return to normalcy in 2017, starting as the Cowboys' middle linebacker for a full 16 games. He became one of the team's and NFL's brightest success stories, earning the right to celebrate everyday activities returning to his life - as football did this season.
This is exactly what Jaylon Smith did on Twitter Friday afternoon, posting a Snapchat video of himself bowling. The caption on Twitter adds that Smith was enjoying his time at the lanes for the first time in two years.
It was January 1st, 2016 when Jaylon Smith's injury in the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame changed his outlook forever. In that moment, Smith went from a projected top ten pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to a LB that would need a team to take a chance on him - and be patient.
The Dallas Cowboys proved to be that team, using the 34th overall pick on the Notre Dame star and supporting his efforts to return to the field from day one. The entire Cowboys' organization was rewarded by Smith remarkably playing every game this season, inspired by his constant determination to do just that.
So, a normal offseason for Jaylon Smith is anything but right now. Still battling the drop foot condition (one that is reportedly healing well and "fading") which limits his movement ability in the lower body, Smith is a normal Dallas Cowboys football player from this point forward.
He can say he's already defined all odds, can expect to take an even bigger stride forward in 2018, and Jaylon Smith can go bowling again. You can't help but be happy for #54.
Dak Prescott’s Accuracy Stands Out in Final 2017 Stats
2017 was a season that left the Dallas Cowboys with a ton of questions to think about. Dez Bryant's contract, Sean Lee and Tyron Smith's availability, and the future of DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving are some of those questions.
But there's another more pressing question for the Cowboys. How can they get the most out of Quarterback Dak Prescott and avoid another struggling year for him?
Also, what if he has another rough year? At what point does quarterback become a position that needs to be evaluated if he continues to struggle?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that will be the case. In fact, I have a lot of faith in Dak. I think he's shown a lot to be excited about and I definitely believe there's a "quarterback curve" in the NFL. Hopefully, #4 finds a way to get back on track in 2018.
A reason to be optimistic about Prescott's future is an impressive stat from NFL Next Gen Stats. Turns out, Dak Prescott ranked first in the NFL in "tight window throws" completion percentage with 45.8%.
According to Matt Harmon from NFL.com, a "tight window throw" is defined as a pass in which the intended receiver has less than a yard of separation from the defender.
Dak Prescott is far from a perfect quarterback and he's constantly bashed about his throwing accuracy. Just recently, he took part in a passing competition with David Carr before the NFL Honors and well... it's fair to say Carr completely beat him.
David Carr 6, Dak Prescott 1 pic.twitter.com/rV532Q3Cob
— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) 6 de febrero de 2018
Cowboys Twitter was anything but forgiving for the young quarterback, but at the end of the day, I'm not sure a casual passing competition at an event like that one is the way you judge an NFL starting quarterback who has a 22-10 record in his career.
Dak has a long way to go before being considered an excellent quarterback in the league, but a bad season like 2017 doesn't mean it's the end of his career and that the Dallas Cowboys should start Cooper Rush over him.
It's not the first quarterback who struggles one year and he won't be the last one to bounce back from one. As of right now, Dak Prescott rightfully is the Dallas Cowboys QB1. Hopefully he has a better year next season.
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