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Plan V: A Long And Hard Look In The Mirror

RJ Ochoa

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Cowboys Blog - Plan V: A Long And Hard Look In The Mirror

A few years ago the Oklahoma City Thunder were taking on the new-look Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.

One of my best friends, Kenny, and I were in high support of Oklahoma City.

In an effort to give what support we could to the Thunder, Kenny and I made a pact. Like one of the Thunder's star players, James Harden, we would grow out our facial hair. We would not shave until the Thunder were crowned NBA Champions.

How hard could this be? A typical NBA Finals lasts about two weeks so all that I had to do was last 14 days. No biggie.

I've never rocked a full out beard before so I was a teeny bit hesitant. The Thunder won Game 1 though so I figured that Kenny and I would be in the clear sooner rather than later.

Game 2 went to Miami, and my face bothered me a little. Then Game 3, another Heat victory, happened and my face never stopped itching. I wanted to bail, but Kenny and I had made a commitment!

By the time Game 4 rolled around I was beginning to get pretty uncomfortable. I looked long and hard in the mirror and didn't even recognize myself behind that scruff. I couldn't take it any longer. Sorry, Kenny.

Before tipoff even happened... I was back to normal. The Thunder never won a game again in those Finals, ultimately losing it all in Game 5. No regrets from me.

There were a few lessons learned throughout this whole debacle.

  1. Beards aren't for everyone.
  2. The Thunder let me down in 2012.
  3. Sometimes, as much as you want to, you have to give up and stop forcing an issue.

I've been one of the staunchest supporters of the 2015 Dallas Cowboys. In the darkest times of this season I've done my best to find the light of hope. Four times this year I've assessed the damage and put together a "plan" to win the NFC East and make the playoffs. (You can read Plans I, II, III, and IV by clicking on their respective roman numerals).

Three days ago the Dallas Cowboys lost to the Green Bay Packers in pathetic fashion. I was on hand at Lambeau Field and saw it all happen in person. After the game my Dad and I sat in our seats and I thought about how/if I could put together a Plan V.

The loss to the Green Bay Packers combined with wins from literally every other team in the division in Week 14 left me no choice but to give the mirror in my Green Bay hotel room a long and hard look.

I said on Twitter that Plan IV was the last conceivable resort. It was our "break the emergency glass and pull the alarm" move.

As painful as it is to admit, I came away from that mirror session with one indisputable thought.

There is no Plan V. This team is done.

Of course there are some mathematical possibilities that would see the Cowboys somehow winning the NFC East and getting a ticket to the 2015 Playoffs Dance. It is simply not happening with these Cowboys.

It would be extremely difficult even for the Cowboys that we envisioned, in the wee beginnings of this season, to pull this off. It is impossible for this current bunch.

The team that I saw with my own eyes in Green Bay is not capable of beating an NFL team. The Packers game was seemingly a microcosm of this season as Dallas was given chance after chance... only to squander them all.

I greatly enjoyed writing Plans I, II, III, and IV. They gave me, and hopefully you, some hope when there wasn't much.

We forced the 2015 Dallas Cowboys issue four times with these plans. It's now time to initiate Plan V... it's time to let go.

Goodbye, 2015. You were weird in every way. I officially let you go.


RJ Ochoa on Fancred

What are your thoughts on the 2015 Dallas Cowboys season? Vent with me. Comment below, Email me at Roel.Ochoa.Jr@Gmail.com, or Tweet to me @rjochoa!

Tell us what you think about "Plan V: A Long And Hard Look In The Mirror" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!



I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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Star Blog

If You Could Only Pay One: Ezekiel Elliott Vs. Byron Jones

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys en Español: Proyectando el Roster de 53 Jugadores 2
James D. Smith via AP

Let me first start by saying this is not the case. The Cowboys can find ways to pay both Ezekiel Elliott and Byron Jones over the next two offseasons, securing leaders on each side of the ball.

But last week a couple of Twitter polls got me very interested in this topic, and I wanted to expand on my thoughts.

It all started when longtime Cowboys reporter Mike Fisher wrote that as the Cowboys look to sign their own free agents, Byron Jones will likely be the one who gets squeezed out. So while Elliott, Dak Prescott, DeMarcus Lawrence, Amari Cooper, and Jaylon Smith remain with the team, Jones will likely be off to find a new home.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

if you can only pay one it should be

I put up this poll, pitting Jones against Elliott, and Jones came out as the winner. My colleague John Williams put out the same poll, but with Elliott running away for the victory.

John Williams ✭ on Twitter

Inspired by my teammate @KevinBrady88, if you can only pay one, which would it be?

His had many more votes, which likely makes his poll a bit more representative of the fan base's feelings (which reminds me, follow me on Twitter @KevinBrady88.) Plus, I have been carrying the Byron Jones flag for quite some time, so it's possible my followers are biased towards Jones.

Either way, let's examine the situation here.

On one hand is Ezekiel Elliott. The former fourth overall selection in 2016, Elliott has led the league in rushing two of his first three seasons in the NFL. While this is true, his ability (and usage) as a receiver deserves to be questioned, and his lack of touchdown production in comparison to some other elite-level backs is concerning as well.

Yes, this is not totally his fault, as Scott Linehan and an overall lack of offensive weapons outside of Elliott have handcuffed him a bit. But if we are going to place the blame for his faults onto others, then we should at least attribute some of his excellent raw rushing totals simply to opportunities.

Elliott carried the ball 304 times in 15 games, averaging 20.3 rush attempts per game. The next closet player in terms of total carries? Saquon Barkley, who carried it 261 times in 16 games, averaging 16.3 rushes per game. That's a massive gap.

No individual running back is taking the wear and tear that Elliott is on a per game basis. And while it helps make his raw rushing totals look outstanding, it is also likely hurting his shelf life as an elite runner in the NFL.

The main argument I received supporting paying Elliott over Byron Jones was that while cornerback is more important than running back in a vacuum, Elliott is such a special player that his importance is greater than that of a normal running back.

Maybe. But let's talk about how special Byron Jones is and can be.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

Kevin Brady on Twitter

https://t.co/3wwkpl4qM7

Jones' spider chart puts him in elite company, with the likes of Jalen Ramsey, Antonio Cromartie, and Terence Newman. Except, Jones was even more athletic that each of these Pro Bowl caliber cornerbacks.

Cornerbacks with the athletic profile that Byron Jones has rarely ever miss, and most of the time they reach an All Pro level. This is exactly what Jones did in 2018, getting named second team All Pro and to his first Pro Bowl in the same season. Both these honors also came during his first season as a full-time cornerback. Imagine what his ceiling can look like as he continues to work with Kris Richard and get more comfortable in his permanent home.

There's no doubt that Jones struggled a bit more in December last year than he did in September, but he was playing at a pace few players ever have played at or kept up over a long period of time. Even accounting for these "struggles," Jones was graded as the sixth best cornerback in all of football by Pro Football Focus. Elliott, on the other hand, had his overall value questioned by PFF.

Of course PFF is not the be-all-end-all here, but it's certainly a piece of the argument. Both Elliott and Jones will command top money at their position whenever it is their turn to get signed. The Cowboys have struggled for years to find themselves a number one cornerback. Despite paying Brandon Carr big money and trading up for Morris Claiborne, it simply hasn't worked. Really since Newman began aging, they haven't gotten that guy.

On the other hand, Dallas produced two 1,000 yard rushers back-to-back seasons before Elliott even became a Cowboy. Running back is a more replaceable position at the top than cornerback is, and if Dallas believes that Jones should be considered "at the top" of his position group, than the choice between the two becomes clear.

I will say, however, that there is a human element to this as well. Elliott is a clear leader on this team, and if the Cowboys strong-armed him out of town, it could have serious implications across the roster. Jason Garett loves Zeke, Jerry Jones loves Zeke, and quarterback Dak Prescott loves Zeke.

Zeke is going to get paid by the Cowboys, I have no doubts or issues with that, but if all these guys getting paid squeezes an All Pro corner out of town, that could bite this franchise in the butt down the line.



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Jason Garrett Has Hard Road Ahead in Contract Year

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Report: Jason Garrett "Not Going Anywhere" with Possible Extension Coming Soon 1

It seems like every year we talk about how hot is Jason Garrett's seat. This year though, it will be one of the biggest storylines surrounding the Dallas Cowboys. Garrett will enter the 2019 season without an extension. However you feel about the Cowboys head coach, being in a contract year automatically means dealing with low job security.

What is clear though is that Garrett's contract year might be a difficult one.

First of all, the Dallas Cowboys haven't managed to get their superstar 26-year old pass rusher signed to a long term deal. DeMarcus Lawrence has made it clear that he will not play under the tag and until a contract is signed, he'll even postpone his pending shoulder surgery.

Cowboys Nation is hoping to see D-Law get his long term deal before it's too late, and as we know, the Cowboys want to sign him. Who wouldn't? But there's a reason it hasn't happened yet and if this drags out, it won't be good for the team. Jason Garrett can't be happy about not having his best defensive player ready to work.

Kellen Moore, Jason Garrett, Dak Prescott

Rather than an unfortunate situation, this feels more like a bold approach by Garrett. After firing Scott Linehan, the Cowboys promoted Kellen Moore to offensive coordinator. Moore's potential has since been praised by players and coaches around the country and I'm actually excited about what he can bring to the table. But he's still a rookie OC. Young coaches like Sean McVay have taken the league by storm but it still feels like a bold move by Garrett to put Moore in this position. This was undoubtedly a Jason Garrett move and it only makes sense for the Cowboys to let him put together his own staff before the season.

Under the "Cowboys are one player away" narrative, many believed a big free agency signing was bound to happen in Dallas. Specifically, the discussion revolved around one of the newest members of the Baltimore Ravens, Safety Earl Thomas. So far, though, it's been same old, same old for the Cowboys during the start of free agency. Top free agents are off the shelves and Dallas has been pretty quiet so far.

Also worth noting is that the Cowboys will not have a first round pick during the 2019 NFL Draft. Now granted, that first round pick they don't have was worth it thanks to Amari Cooper's arrival but it's still a difficult situation for a football team that has many needs, including one at wide receiver after letting Cole Beasley leave for the Buffalo Bills.

A potential holdout by DeMarcus Lawrence, a rookie offensive coordinator, no splash in free agency and no first round pick... Jason Garrett's approach to his contract year certainly seems like a risky one. Not to mention this is only what we're talking about now. What if Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott or Cooper decide to holdout (even if it's just for a while and eventually come back)? Hopefully this isn't the case, but with the way things go in the NFL today it wouldn't be a surprise.

The Dallas Cowboys will play in an NFC East that might sound like an easy division but surprises happen every single year. If Jason Garrett manages to lead his team to a successful season under such circumstances, he should earn the respect of many fans that want him out of the picture. The question will of course be: "How much does he needs to accomplish to keep his job?" Will making it to the playoffs be enough? Or will he need to make a bigger statement?

Tell me what you think about "Jason Garrett Has Hard Road Ahead in Contract Year" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Would Cowboys Trade Joe Looney if the Saints Came Calling?

Brian Martin

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Would Cowboys Trade Joe Looney if the Saints Came Calling?

The hits keep coming for the New Orleans Saints. Not only are their fans extremely disappointed in the way the Saints 2018 season ended, and rightfully so, but now they have to deal with the fact that one of their best offensive players has decided to retire. Ouch!

Field Yates on Twitter

Source: Saints C Max Unger has retired. Wow.

No matter how you slice it, Max Unger's decision to retire is a huge blow to the Saints offense. The three-time Pro Bowl center is still one of the best in the game at his position and he's a huge reason why New Orleans has been so successful on the offensive side of the ball since he joined the team in 2015.

Unger's ability to keep the middle of the pocket from collapsing on Quarterback Drew Brees, while also blocking for Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram in the running game is the lifeblood of the Saints offense. Without him, the entire offense could be in trouble. Finding someone to step in and fill those huge shoes won't be easy.

As luck would have it, the Dallas Cowboys may have the answer to their problems. Joe Looney had to step in and replace Travis Frederick, another one of the top centers in the NFL, and filled in admirably during his absence. He could do the same thing for the New Orleans Saints.

With Frederick set to return to the Cowboys starting lineup in 2019, Looney suddenly becomes nothing more than a backup C/G once again. Because of that, he could become expendable, making him an intriguing tradable asset for teams looking for a starting caliber offensive lineman with versatility to play any interior position. This could be exactly the kind of player the Saints are targeting.

Unfortunately for New Orleans, they don't have a lot of draft capital in the 2019 NFL Draft to find a starting caliber center. Like the Cowboys, they don't have a first-round pick this year and don't make their first selection until the second-round. After that, they don't have another draft pick until the fifth-round. This further complicates replacing Unger as well as trading for anyone, such as Joe Looney.

It's highly unlikely the Saints are willing to part ways with their second-round pick and the Cowboys would probably want more for Joe Looney than a fifth-rounder. Looney after all has proven to be a serviceable starter, which is probably more valuable for Dallas considering the unknown about Travis Frederick's health moving forward.

So, even if the New Orleans Saints picked up the phone and called the Dallas Cowboys to acquire about trading for Joe Looney, I just don't think the two teams would be able to come together on trade compensation. I guess that means we can put this potential trade rumor to bed.



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