Welcome to this week's edition of Martin's 5!
The Dallas Cowboys can kick back and put the feet up this week while watching the first round of the playoffs to see who their opponent will be in a few weeks.
It has to be a strange feeling to know that the slate is wiped completely clean and every team that made the playoffs now has an equal chance to play in Houston, Texas for the Super Bowl.
The Cowboys are in a rare situation where they won't have to leave the state of Texas for the Super Bowl if they take care of business in the playoffs. That is what we all hope to see, right?
Despite making the playoffs, there's still lots of things about the Dallas Cowboys that I'm wondering about this week, hence the purpose of Martin's 5 to begin with.
Below are the five things that I'm wondering about this week during the downtime between games for the Cowboys. I hope you enjoy.
One: I don't know if I've ever seen a more confusing situation/circumstance than what I see Randy Gregory in presently. Gregory has been able to play the last couple games for the Cowboys after serving his suspension, but his availability for the playoffs is now up in the air because he is facing a possible year-long suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy once again. He has recently met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, but still doesn't know his fate. I wonder why the NFL would allow Gregory to return and play for two games, then decide to turn right around and possibly suspend him with the playoffs fixing to get underway? The way the NFL has handled this whole situation is beyond mind-boggling and it really puts the Dallas Cowboys in a tough situation. The Cowboys might have handled things differently had they known Gregory could only be back for two games. They likely wouldn't have released DE Zach Moore, because they could definitely use the depth at the position. The Randy Gregory mystery is beyond confusing, but hopefully everything works out for the best.
Two: The pass rush for the Dallas Cowboys has struggled getting after opposing QB's for the majority of the season, so you really have to give credit to the secondary for the way they have performed. Brandon Carr, Anthony Brown, and Orlando Scandrick have been playing really well and are a big reason why the defense has exceeded everyone's expectations here lately. Morris Claiborne was having the best season of his career before suffering a groin injury and it looks like he will be available for the Cowboys first playoff game. What I'm wondering is, what kind of role will Claiborne have in the secondary once he returns? It's unlikely he will be reinserted into the starting lineup. I don't know how you replace Brandon Carr or Anthony Brown with the way they have been playing. Odds are he will be worked slowly back into the lineup and played mostly when the defense is in their nickel package. Hopefully he can pick up where he left off, because that would be a huge benefit for the backend of the Cowboys defense.
Three: Morris Claiborne isn't the only Dallas Cowboys player that is expected to return to practice this week after missing nearly the entire 2016 season because of a toe injury. La'el Collins is expected to be activated off of IR, which means the Dallas Cowboys have 21 days to decide what to do with him in the playoffs. Much like Claiborne, I wonder where Collins fits into the plans on the offensive line? Ronald Leary has been outstanding this season and Joe Looney is the backup guard/center on game days. Collins is strictly a guard, so having him active for games would be a luxury I'm not sure the Cowboys can afford with some of the injuries on the defensive line. Leary suited up, but didn't play last week against the Philadelphia Eagles because of a back injury. So, maybe bringing back Collins from IR is more about insurance in case of further problems with Leary's back. This will be a situation I will be keeping a close eye on.
Four: The Dallas Cowboys will have nearly 2 whole weeks in between games with a first-round bye for the playoffs. They haven't had this much time off since their bye week earlier in the season, so I'm wondering how the coaching staff and players are trying to keep their edge? One way to keep their edge is to get as many of their players as healthy as possible before the next game. The Cowboys inactive list last week against the Philadelphia Eagles was all made up of injured players, so this two week time span might actually work in their favor. However, I also worry that they might lose their momentum because the routine that has worked so well for the entire season now has to be tinkered with a little bit. How the Dallas Cowboys handle this time off could go a long ways in determining whether or not they will be successful in the postseason and make a push to playing in Houston, Texas for the Super Bowl.
Five: The Dallas Cowboys arguably have the best stable of quarterbacks on all of the teams in the playoffs, but I wonder how many they decide to activate on game day? We all know that Dak Prescott is the starting QB and Tony Romo without a doubt played superbly last week against the Philadelphia Eagles. Mark Sanchez on the other hand pretty much came out and laid an egg against his former team. Honestly, I don't see why the the Cowboys would carry three QB's on the game day roster. If they have to resort to playing Sanchez, then the odds are already stacking up against them to win whoever they're playing against anyway. The Cowboys may need an extra game day roster spot for depth purposes at a different position, so I wouldn't be surprised if we don't see Mark Sanchez in uniform in the playoffs.
Is there anything you are wondering about the Dallas Cowboys this week?
Please feel free to use the comment section below to share any of your thoughts and opinions on this topic.
Cowboys en Español: ¿Qué Safety Estará Ahí en el #58?
Por fin estamos a menos de una semana del NFL Draft 2019. El evento que define el futuro de las franquicias de la liga año tras año está a días de distancia y los rumores comienzan a tomar velocidad. Para los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, la experiencia del Draft será un poco diferente ya que no cuentan con una selección de primera ronda. En vez de eso, tienen a Amari Cooper. ¿Lo vale? Sí. Pero, no se puede negar que el equipo estará en una posición complicada durante el Draft.
No sólo no hay un pick de primera ronda para los Cowboys, sino que no cuentan con uno dentro del Top 50. Estas son las selecciones con las que cuentan los Jones y compañía:
- Pick #58 (segunda ronda)
- Pick #91 (tercera ronda)
- Pick #129 (cuarta ronda)
- Pick #137 (cuarta ronda)
- Pick #166 (quinta ronda)
- Pick #243 (séptima ronda)
A menos que sean sorprendentemente agresivos, no habrá noticias sobre los Dallas Cowboys el próximo jueves. Más bien tendremos que esperar hasta el segundo día del Draft para ver que traman los Cowboys. ¿Qué podemos esperar sobre su primera selección?
En este momento, parece que no hay ninguna necesidad más fuerte que la de un safety. Y parece ser que el talento disponible en la segunda ronda podría beneficiar a los Cowboys. Como cada año, es difícil pronosticar quien estará en la tabla y quien no, pero hablemos de varios safeties que podrían solucionar los problemas de Dallas.
S Taylor Rapp, Washington
Algunos ven a Rapp como el mejor safety en la clase de novatos, mientras que otros están convencidos de que no podrá tener éxito en la NFL. La mayor preocupación en torno al producto de Washington es su velocidad. En las pruebas que realizó sus resultados no fueron nada satisfactorios. Sin embargo, ha probado en el campo que es bueno contra la corrida y se puede encargar de su trabajo en cobertura. Es bueno al tacklear, y podría ser justo lo que los Cowboys necesitan.
S Jonathan Abraham, Mississippi State
Abraham se proyecta como un strong safety, que es lo que los Cowboys necesitan. De todos los prospectos, parece que Abraham es el favorito a irse primero. Sin embargo, no es perfecto y sus defectos podrían costarle una caída hasta la segunda ronda. Abraham falla tackleadas ocasionalmente, pero su juego físico y agresivo lo puede compensar. Si cae hasta el #58, Abraham no puede ser ignorado.
S Juan Thornhill, Virginia
Thornhill no es mejor que los mencionados anteriormente, pero quizá sea más probable encontrarlo si los Cowboys se quedan en el pick #58. En Virginia, Thornhill tuvo tres temporadas donde fue titular en más de 10 partidos. Es todo un play-maker, consiguiendo 13 intercepciones en su carrera colegial. Lidero a su equipo en tackleadas. Puede jugar en varios puntos de la defensiva e incluso llegó a alinearse como linebacker. Dudo que eso pase en la NFL, pero podría ser un buen safety dentro de la caja y en cobertura.
S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida
Gardner-Johnson fue uno de los líderes en Florida durante toda su carrera. Jugó como safety y como cornerback, muchas veces actuando como "nickel." Chauncey no sería de mis opciones favoritas en este punto del Draft, pero es una que no se puede ignorar si los demás jugadores ya no están disponibles. Sabe romper jugadas y tiene potencial de convertirse en un titular a largo plazo.
S Amani Hooker, Iowa
En el escenario de que todos los mejores safeties ya hayan sido seleccionados y el equipo no prefiera atender otra necesidad, Amani Hooker merece un vistazo. En Iowa ganó el premio al mejor defensive back de su conferencia (Big Ten). Tuvo buenos números en sus pruebas y podría ser un buen strong safety dentro de la caja, donde se pone en posición constantemente para hacer jugadas.
Claro que los Cowboys podrían tomar otra ruta y no seleccionar a un safety hasta más tarde. Sin embargo, considero que sería lo correcto. Incluso pienso que si Taylor Rapp o su prospecto favorito está disponible en un punto de la segunda ronda, Dallas estará dispuesto a hacer un trade para subir y alcanzarlo.
Sólo queda esperar este gran e impredecible evento. ¿Qué esperas del NFL Draft? Hazme saber en los comentarios o por medio de Twitter en @MauNFL.
Cowboys Look To Be In For Brutal December Slate In 2019
All sixteen regular season games count the same. A win in September means exactly the same as a win in December. Just as a touchdown in the first quarter counts for the same number of points as a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
While factually accurate, we know these statements aren't totally true. Championship teams often "hit their stride" in November and December, as they close out divisions, clinch playoff births, and prove they can stay cool and claim victory when the pressure mounts to its highest peak.
Under Jason Garrett, and Wade Phillips before him, the Cowboys have developed the reputation of not "winning the big one." In particular, they've been labeled as a team that "chokes" in December. Tony Romo dealt with his fair share of December/January demons during his career, but overcame them towards his final seasons. Dak Prescott has yet to advance past the Divisional Round of the postseason himself, but the narrative around the Cowboys has seemed to change.
Now, due to their late season run and victory over the Seattle Seahawks last season, people see Prescott and the Cowboys as a team that can find ways to win. A team, and a quarterback, who may not be as prolific as some of the other top squads in the conference, but one that you can never count out. I'd argue this has been the case with Dallas for quite some time under Garrett, but it is only now the narrative has changed.
Their late season fortitude will be tested again in 2019, however.
The NFL released the official schedule for the 2019 NFL season earlier this week, with the Cowboys getting some favorable (and some not-so-favorable) draws. What jumped off the page immediately to me, however, is how tough their final four games will be. And, of course, how critical victories in those games will be to gaining an NFC playoff spot.
Among those four December games are trips to Chicago and Philadelphia, two playoff teams a year ago who present problems in different ways. The Bears, known for their talented defense and innovative play-caller, and the Eagles, the always tough divisional foe.
Dallas also gets two home games during this stretch, hosting the Los Angeles Rams week 15, and finishing out the year against the Washington Redskins. The Rams, of course, eliminated the Cowboys from the postseason a year ago, and are expected to be one of the conference's best again.
The Cowboys will face a first-place schedule in 2019, and will have to prove that they are playoff-worthy down the stretch in December.
Dallas Cowboys: 3 Schedule Predictions Ahead Of Wednesday’s Release
Wednesday night the official 2019 NFL schedule will be released, and we will know the exact times and dates of each of the Cowboys' upcoming games.
We already know the opponents, however, and we know how the NFL typically likes to schedule games week to week. Based on both prior history and future opponents, here are 3 predictions for tonight's schedule release.
1. Cowboys Open Up With The Giants
I didn't say the predictions would be bold, did I?
The NFL loves to have the Cowboys open up against the New York Giants, and I see that being the case here again. Dallas/New York will always bring about solid ratings, but scheduling this game before the Giants (likely) fall out of contention is a smart move as well.
This game will be in Dallas at 4:25 eastern time, occupying that "America's Game of the Week" slot during the opening weekend. Because as much as everyone says they hate watching these NFC East games, the numbers bear out a different story.
2. Cowboys Play @ Saints Thursday After Thanksgiving
We know the Cowboys will play in an extra Thursday or Saturday night game this season. They always do.
Lately the league has liked to schedule them as the Thursday night game following Thanksgiving, and I don't see them breaking that trend this season. Dallas has played the Vikings, Redskins, and Saints in this game the last three years, with the Cowboys/Saints game being one of the best of last year's Thursday slate.
Why not run it back at the Superdome this November?
3. Cowboys Close The Season With A Brutal December
This is broad prediction, so let's narrow it down a bit. I think the Cowboys will play three critical NFC games in December, at the very least. These games will include NFC East battles with the Washington Redskins (week 17) and Philadelphia Eagles, as well as a game at Chicago to face the Bears.
It's likely the Cowboys, Bears, and Eagles will be fighting for playoff positioning (or playoff births) down the stretch in December. Plus, anytime a combination of these three teams play, ratings will be drawn. I think they'll have Prescott battle Mitchell Trubisky and Carson Wentz this December, as he and the Cowboys look to clinch a consecutive playoff birth.
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