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Next Day Rant: The Cowboys Made the Playoffs. Enjoy It!

Jess Haynie



Next Day Rant: The Cowboys Made the Playoffs. Enjoy It!
AP Photo/Tim Sharp

I never thought I'd see the day that fans weren't thrilled to see their team make the playoffs, but somehow we've come to that from parts of Cowboys Nation. Just thought I'd take a few minutes today to remind Dallas fans of just how often our team has qualified for the postseason, and that it's okay to enjoy it!

The Cowboys clinched the NFC East yesterday with their victory over Tampa Bay. It is only the fifth division title for Dallas since the 2000 season and the seventh playoff appearance overall.

Seven out of 19 seasons; 37% of the time that your Cowboys have made the playoffs since Michael Irvin retired.

Now, to be fair, that is consistent with the number of teams who make the playoffs every year. Only 12 of the NFL's 32 franchises get into the tournament each season; 37.5% of teams.

But we're the Cowboys, right? We hold ourselves to a higher standard.

But should we?

There's a reason that what Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the rest of the Patriots organization have done over this same time span is so special. Books have and will be written about their accomplishments because they are so hard to fathom.

The salary cap and the draft system make long-term sustained success so difficult in the modern NFL. Jerry Jones would go full Steinbrenner on the league if the rules allowed, but his hands are tied and his wallet is restricted.

Dallas isn't any more entitled to a playoff spot each year than 31 other teams. They have the exact same resources available to accomplish that goal as everyone else.

Emmitt Smith, Michael Irving, Troy Aikman, Triplets

Don't get me wrong; I understand the angst that permeates Cowboys Nation. Some of us want to see the team get back to what we grew up with, be it the Landry-Staubach glory days or the 90s Dynasty.

The bar was set. We were raised on the idea that The Star means something greater than the norm; something exceptional.

That's two generations of fans, fathers and sons who have since become grandfathers and fathers, waiting to see their Cowboys get back to consistently standing above the pack.

Then there's a generation of Dallas fans who never got to see Mike, Troy Aikman, and Emmitt Smith win three Super Bowls. They've known nothing but disappointment, and I understand your desperation to see something different.

You watched the Hall of Fame careers of Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware, and Tony Romo get wasted by misfortune and mismanagement. You were told, year after year, that this team was good enough to win it all and it never happened.

They rarely even got close. Romo only made the playoffs four out of his nine seasons.

Then 2016 came, and this new young nucleus went 13-3 and got your hopes soaring. Something special was happening in Dallas again.

Dak Prescott was breaking Tom Brady's records. Ezekiel Elliott was passing Emmitt Smith and threatening Eric Dickerson. The offensive line looked built to dominate for years to come.

But these two seasons since haven't lived up to the hype. 2017 was a collective kick to the crotch, and 2018 feels like Dallas has little to no momentum despite their playoff berth.

I get it. You're afraid.

Dallas Cowboys Still Plagued by Red Zone Struggles

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott

You're afraid of another first-round letdown. You're worried that the Seattle Seahawks are going to come to Dallas and toss us out of the playoffs like Uncle Phil did to Jazz.

But greatness doesn't come easily in this league. Jimmy Johnson's Cowboys went 1-15 and 7-9 in their first two years. Their third season, they made the playoffs as a wild card and lost in the second round.

It was their fourth year when Super Bowl glory finally returned to Dallas.

By that standard, Dak Prescott's Cowboys are already ahead of the game. They've had two division titles and three winning seasons in just three years.

And the book is still far from closed for this year. Anything can happen in January.

Maybe it will be another early playoff exit. But remember that these aren't the Romo-Witten Cowboys anymore. This is one of the youngest, least experienced rosters in the NFL.

Don't let the past cloud the present. Enjoy this playoff run for what it is, no matter how long it lasts.

They don't come around that often.

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!


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BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Sign Free Agent Safety George Iloka

Jess Haynie



George Iloka

The Dallas Cowboys have reached a one-year agreement with Safety George Iloka, according to ESPN's Todd Archer. Iloka spent 2018 with the Vikings after six years with the Bengals.

He's started 79 of his 99 career games since being a fifth-round pick by Cincinnati in 2012. Iloka turns 29 years old next week.

Todd Archer on Twitter

The Cowboys have agreed to a one-year deal with safety George Iloka, according to a source. Iloka met with the Cowboys on Friday and was the third safety to meet with the club during the week along with Clayton Geathers and Eric Berry. The Cowboys have...

This isn't the safety that most Cowboys fans wanted. After over a year of pining for Earl Thomas, sights turned to Eric Berry after his free agent visit in Dallas last week.

However, it makes sense that Iloka would be attractive to the Cowboys. At 6'4" and 225 lbs, he fits the physical mold of what Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard likes in his players. He also is younger than than Berry and Thomas without the same recent injury issues.

Iloka becomes one of many Boise St. products on Dallas' roster, joining Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch, and others. He entered the league with college teammates Crawford and Kellen Moore, the Cowboys' new offensive coordinator, in 2012.

We'll have to wait and see how George Iloka fits into the current mix at safety with Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods. He spent most of 2018 as a backup with Minnesota, but Dallas will likely give him a chance to start.

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What to Expect from Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Group in 2019

John Williams



Amari Cooper

In a span of a week, the Dallas Cowboys have solidified their wide receiver group with the resigning of Tavon Austin to a one year deal and the signing of former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb. Despite the loss of Cole Beasley, the Cowboys have a created a really good group of receivers for Quarterback Dak Prescott to throw to.

Cobb joins a really nice group of players that includes incumbent starters on the outside in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup as well as solid depth players in Austin, Allen Hurns, and Noah Brown. Throw in Cedric Wilson, the Dallas Cowboys sixth round pick from the 2018 NFL Draft and the Cowboys may have one of the deeper receiving corps in the NFL.

The question is, how will the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff delineate the roles?

Let's take a look.

Outside Receivers

As I mentioned before, the Dallas Cowboys are returning their top two options on the outside in Amari Cooper, who is the X wide receiver and Michael Gallup, the Z receiver. Both players will go into week one as the starters at their respective positions in two-wide receiver formations.

Despite some of the overthrows from Dak Prescott to Michael Gallup, Gallup had a really nice rookie season and got better as the year went along, even leading the Cowboys in receiving in the playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams. In that game, Gallup recorded the first 100 yard game of his career. Sure, it was in an attempt to comeback by the Dallas Cowboys, but it is impressive nonetheless. His touchdown catch against the Seattle Seahawks the week before was clutch. The Cowboys needed that to take the lead at the end of the first half. 2018 was only the beginning for Michael Gallup. He showed an ability to win with a full offseason to work with Dak Prescott, their chemistry and connection should only improve.

As for Cooper, his presence was felt right away as the offense just looked different once he stepped on the field. It's no coincidence that Dak Prescott's two best career games in terms of passing yardage came with Cooper in 2018. He's such a threat that he opens up space for the rest of the wide receiver group. His route running, speed, ability to run after the catch make him a threat to score any time he's targeted.

Behind Cooper and Gallup, you have options in the event that one of them gets hurt. Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, and Noah Brown are all players who took snaps on the outside for the Dallas Cowboys in 2018 and did so with effectiveness. Hurns best game of the year came just before the Cooper deal was made as he went for five receptions for 75 yards.

Tavon provided down field speed on several occasions and provides some gadget quality that the Dallas Cowboys love to have. Noah Brown is a player that the Dallas Cowboys love to deploy as a blocker in the running game. While it looked like he might get more run in the passing game in 2019, the depth additions will limit him again to a specialty role. If needed, though, he could be an option to take snaps on the outside as his big frame allows him to box out defensive backs down the field.

There will be snaps on the outside for someone when the Cowboys go to 11 personnel, because of Amari Cooper's ability to slide into the slot.

Slot Receiver

Obviously, the writing is on the wall with who the Dallas Cowboys are planning on deploying in the slot as things stand right now, and that's Randall Cobb.

While Cobb should be penciled in as the starter in the slot, I doubt that he's going to get 100% of the snaps there in 11 or 10 personnel groupings. Amari Cooper, Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, Noah Brown, and Cedric Wilson could all push for playing time from the slot.

Last month, I wrote a piece about Allen Hurns and his effectiveness in the slot and why the Cowboys should feature him there. With Cobb coming off an injury laden season, the Cowboys would be wise to give some snaps to Hurns along with Tavon Austin.

In Jacksonville, Hurns was incredibly effective from the slot running posts, slants, and ins and outs. His size and route running made him an effective mismatch against linebackers, safeties, and cornerbacks alike. Remember, it wasn't long ago that Hurns had a 1,000 yard season with Blake Bortles at the helm.

Tavon Austin's quickness is an asset that could be very effective in the slot as well. Though he lacks size, he's a player that opposing defenses have to account for because of his ability to make big plays once the ball's in his hands.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

The Cowboys haven't been shy about carrying seven wide receivers on their 53-man rosters and it's possible, though unlikely that they could do it again in 2018. As things stand now, I see Noah Brown and Cedric Wilson as the potential odd men out. Of course, this could all get reshuffled if the Dallas Cowboys use a top 100 pick on a wide receiver in the draft.

With Amari Cooper, Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, and Randall Cobb only under contract through the 2019 season, the Dallas Cowboys would be wise to invest at the position despite the strength of the position in 2019.

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Report: Dallas Cowboys Set to Meet with Safety George Iloka

John Williams



Why Cowboys Should Acquire Recently Released S George Iloka

As the Dallas Cowboys continue the process of building a roster capable of taking them back to the playoffs, and hopefully to a Super Bowl, this next season, they’re bringing in another safety to try and strengthen their top 10 defense. This time it’s free agent safety George Iloka, formerly of the Minnesota Vikings.

Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Dallas Cowboys are set to meet with

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

The #Cowboys are hosting former #Vikings and #Bengals safety George Iloka for a visit tomorrow, source said. They're still looking to add in the secondary.

It will be the third meeting this week that they’ve had with a veteran safety after hosting recently resigned Indianapolis’s colts Safety Clayton Geathers and former Kansas City Chiefs Safety Eric Berry.

The Cowboys feel really good about Xavier Woods at safety, but definitely could use some depth at the position as they head toward the 2019 NFL Draft.

Iloka is coming off a season where he was relegated to a reserve role for the Vikings. In five of the last six seasons, Iloka’s played all 16 games, and the one season he didn’t, he played 12. He has nine career interceptions, and has three seasons with more than 70 total tackles.

Back in August of last year, Brian Martin argued that the Dallas Cowboys should pursue Iloka after being released by the Cincinnati Bengals. He would play the strong or box safety role in the Cowboys defense if they were to come to an agreement.

Stay tuned for more Free Agency coverage from us here at

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