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Was It Really A Surprise The Cowboys Lost In The Playoffs?

Brian Leatherman

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DeMarcus Lawrence

When the 2016 season began, who here thought this was going to be a Super Bowl year for the Dallas Cowboys? Was it really a surprise the Cowboys fell short, in the playoffs, and against the Green Bay Packers? It wasn’t for me, and here’s why.

Going back to the 2016 offseason, way before All-Pro QB Tony Romo was hurt again, this team was missing something, and at some point in the 2016 season that something was going to rear its ugly head.

Sure enough, on the biggest stage of the year, that something showed up in a big way.

That something was the pass rush. Many will say it was the secondary that didn’t show up against Super Man, aka Aaron Rodgers. I’ve watched this game for over 40 years; I’ve seen a lot of great QBs during that time and the one thing all those great QBs have in common is their Kryptonite. And that Kryptonite is pass rush.

Without a pass rush your team doesn’t stand a chance against the top quarterbacks in the league.

There are four to five top gun QBs in the league, guys who can take over a game at a moment's notice. And let’s say only one or two of those QBs are on your schedule, then you really have a chance for a good season with all the other weapons you have on your team.

With Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott taking the league by storm, it was easy to forget what the glaring need on this team was if you weren’t watching close enough. I do want to say this is not taking anything away from what defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli did with this defense. He basically played most of the season with four defensive tackles rushing the QB every game, and he had them playing to the best of their abilities, and then some.

Don’t get me wrong. Tyrone Crawford, David Irving, Cedric Thornton, Jack Crawford, Maliek Collins, Benson Mayowa, and DeMarcus Lawrence played out of their minds at times. But that happened when they faced teams with sub-par offensive lines.

Lawrence is the only legit pass rusher out of that group, and I don’t know this for a fact, but I don’t believe Lawrence was fully healthy the entire year.

I feel like his back injury from last year played a big part in his health this season and that’s something to keep an eye on going forward.

But the Cowboys carried on. They played who they had. Sure, Randy Gregory would have been great to have for a whole season, but the team knew long before everyone else that they wouldn't have him. Losing rookie defensive end Charles Tapper didn’t help matters either.

So the Cowboys went into the 2016 season a lot like they went into the past four seasons: wondering where the pass rush was going to come from.

Just like 2014, the last time the Cowboys made the playoffs.

The team used the offense as a way to protect their defense, and it worked. But when it came to facing one of the best QBs in the league, just like in the 2014 playoffs, it just didn’t work, and it won’t ever work.

The old saying in football is to be successful you have to be able to run the ball, and stop the run. And that still true, to a certain degree. However, with the way the National Football League has turned into a passing league, to be truly successful, you must have a pass rush if you want to make it to the Super Bowl.

This season was so much fun. We had young first-year players come in and do things that have never been done before. We have more young players coming next season who could have a similar impact.

But if this team wants to reach the ultimate goal of winning its sixth championship, Jerry and Stephen Jones have to acquire players who can consistently get to the QB. If they don't, the team will continue to see the same results of the last two times the Cowboys were in the playoffs.



Brian has been a football junkie from the time he was 5 years old. He lives, eats and breathes the game. Brian is a college graduate living in the south who loves his faith, his family, and his Dallas Cowboys.

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Star Blog

NFC East QB Picture Could Look Very Different After the Draft

Mauricio Rodriguez

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NFC East QB Picture Could Look Very Different After the Draft

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Draft Day. One of the most wild days in the NFL calendar that surprises us year after year. Fake storylines and rumors fill our social media feeds, surprising trades ruin every Mock Draft available, and things that we believe to be true change at the last second. Of course, one of the most intriguing things to watch during the Draft is the search from a handful of teams for a franchise quarterback.

While the Dallas Cowboys are worried about paying their guy, a couple of teams in their division are concerned about getting a quarterback for the future. The New York Giants should be ready to prepare for life after Eli Manning and the Washington Redskins need to find an exciting young player if they don't want to depend on Case Keenum and/or Colt McCoy.

This year's QB class doesn't look as good as last year's, but there are a few intriguing prospects worth considering. Kyler Murray (Oklahoma) is expected to go to Arizona at the first pick but he isn't the only QB expected to be drafted in the first round. Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State), Drew Lock (Missouri) and Daniel Jones (Duke) have all made appearances in many first round mock drafts.

So what could the Redskins and Giants do to change how the four starting quarterbacks of the division look like?

NFC East QB Picture Could Look Very Different After the Draft 1

Duke QB Daniel Jones (Grant Halverson / Getty Images)

New York Giants

Holding the sixth overall pick in today's NFL Draft, the Giants look like the perfect candidate to draft a quarterback. Last year, they had a similar opportunity sitting at number two but decided to go for the surefire prospect in RB Saquon Barkley. A year later, fans and analysts still question whether that was the right call or not. They took a top-tier player but didn't address the most important position in football. The bottom line is Barkley killed it in his first year in the NFL and even won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

This year though, it could be time for them to stop passing on quarterbacks and take advantage of their position in the Draft. The name that's been the most linked to the Giants is Dwayne Haskins. Matt Miller from Bleacher Report has even said the Giants have done more work on him than any other team out there. A big surprise in the mock draft universe came a few days ago when Daniel Jeremiah mocked Daniel Jones at #6 to the Giants instead of Haskins.

The Giants could not have an easy task ahead of them if they do want Haskins. The Oakland Raiders at #4 are a threat to draft a QB along with many other teams that could be willing to trade up for the Ohio Sate product. Don't be surprised if the Giants need to move up to secure their guy.

The question remains: Does Giants GM Dave Gettleman want to be aggressive and draft a signal-caller even with Eli Manning still playing? Some say he will, some say he won't. We'll have to wait and see.

Washington Redskins

The Redskins are far more intriguing than the Giants. First of all, they hold the 15th pick. If they want to draft a first round quarterback, chances are they'll be forced to trade up. Although every year we think quarterbacks won't go early, there's a reason why most are taken by teams that traded up to get in position.

Grant Paulsen on Twitter

Just talked to a Redskins source who told me Dan Snyder has "taken over the first round of the draft." The last time that happened the Redskins traded two future No. 1's and a No. 2 to move up for Robert Griffin.

If the Raiders end up pulling a big-time trade during the Draft to get into the Top 5, we know what position they'll be looking at. Whether it's Haskins at the top of the round or Lock or Jones a bit later, make no mistake about it. The Redskins could be searching for a QB. Keenum isn't the answer and neither is McCoy. With Alex Smith's playing career being in question, looking for a quarterback only makes sense.

Then there's Josh Rosen. Assuming the Cardinals do what has been expected all along and take Murray, Rosen is going to get traded. Both the Giants and the Redskins could be among the potential destinations for the 2018 first-round pick.

✭✭✭

The Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys are the favorites to be the contenders within the NFC East division. However, we can't ignore the fact that the Redskins were doing pretty well prior to Alex Smith's injury in 2018. The Giants didn't do well, but they've gone a long way in improving their offensive line and count with a great running back in Saquon. Both teams could look very different with a change at QB.

If they do end up drafting a rookie QB or going after Josh Rosen, the NFC East QB picture could become one of the most intriguing and promising ones in the entire NFL. Then we'd be talking about one of the most competitive divisions in the league.

Tell me what you think about "NFC East QB Picture Could Look Very Different After the Draft" 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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The Cowboys Don’t Pick In Tonight’s 1st Round, And They’re Fine With That

Kevin Brady

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Amari Cooper has Final Say on Trade Compensation in Cowboys Win 3

The first round of the 2019 NFL Draft gets underway tonight. On ABC primetime this year, the draft is as popular and flashy as it ever has been. Thousands will watch the commissioner read names from a card Thursday night, but the Dallas Cowboys likely won't be involved whatsoever.

And they're totally ok with that.

The Cowboys, of course, used their 2019 first round pick on former Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper. Cooper helped to awake an offense which had been abysmal prior to his arrival, opening up the passing offense and unlocking quarterback Dak Prescott's best abilities.

Stephen Jones spoke to the Dallas Morning News this week, giving his reasoning for why he is comfortable with not having a first round pick this year.

"I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody that would’ve made a difference on our roster like Amari made last year and like we feel like he’s going to make as me move forward" - Stephen Jones

Of course, he's correct. At least partially. Dallas went 7-2 after the Amari Cooper trade, winning a home playoff game while Cooper put up dominating statistics. Cooper quickly became the Cowboys' most prolific target in the passing game and added an element they so dearly missed during the first half of 2018.

Still, though, not having four (plus one) years of a first round pick on a rookie deal is never ideal. You'd like to have the chance to add that young talent on the cheap. Instead, the Cowboys will need to give Amari Cooper a big payday quickly.

There's no debating that the Amari Cooper trade has been a success for the Dallas Cowboys, however. He's the undisputed WR1 in Dallas, and had instant chemistry with young quarterback Dak Prescott.

You can't help but be excited to see how those two grow together moving forward.



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Are Ezekiel Elliott And Dak Prescott A Package-Deal?

Kevin Brady

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Dallas Cowboys Still Plagued by Red Zone Struggles

Dak and Zeke went viral again this week. Once again, together.

This time, the Cowboys franchise quarterback Dak Prescott was feeding his running back Ezekiel Elliott at a Dallas Stars playoff game, shoveling popcorn down the All Pro's mouth.

It was yet another fun Twitter moment from the Cowboys' star backfield duo, as they have enjoyed more success in their first three seasons together than most fans ever could have imagined back in 2016.

The honeymoon is just about over, though. It's year four for both Prescott and Elliott. Time to take the next step in the postseason and start competing for championships. This also means it's nearing contract time as well.

Elliott knows he'll be a Cowboy for at least two more seasons. The front office picked up his fifth year option earlier this week, ensuring they'd have the elite-level running back through the 2020 season. Prescott's contract, on the other hand, currently expires after 2019. And despite all of the success he's had at quarterback during his young career, he's still on that fourth round salary.

Both Jerry and Stephen Jones has made it known the Cowboys believe in Prescott moving forward. Both have repeatedly said he will be extended in the near future. And if all goes according to plan, Prescott will be the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys for a very long time.

They've also fully backed Elliott. And while just about no one would argue that Prescott is better at his position than Elliott is at his, his position is much less valuable to the offense. Yes, even to this offense. One which is predicated on running the football and controlling the clock.

Quarterbacks are still king, and the money Prescott is set to receive proves that point even further.

It's no secret these two players are great friends, and each heralded leaders in the Cowboys locker room. It would be a tall task for this front office to extend one, while bailing on the other. And by all accounts, the Cowboys have no plan on doing so.

Prescott and Elliott seem like a package-deal in the Cowboys backfield. Quarterback and running back next to one another for as long as they are apart of America's Team.

At least, that's the plan.



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