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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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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. daxman

    January 19, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    The inexperience of dallas coaching staff did rear its ugly head in this game.

  2. Travis Diggs

    January 20, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    Dallas has known this problem for how long????????? Romo has All pro numbers but has nothing to show for it because he always played with a below average defense. PLEASE DONT DO DAK LIKE ROMO!!! Get him some help !!!

  3. BeirutWedding

    January 21, 2017 at 2:20 am

    I think the initial point of this article is dead on. At the beginning of the year, I (and a lot of people) thought we could only go so far because of the lack of defense. Dak and Zeke made us believe otherwise, made everybody believe otherwise. And it came back to bite us at the worst time. But man, it was three months of pure football pleasure. That Pittsburgh game will always be one of my favorite regular season games ever.

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Star Blog

How The Tables Have Turned for 2019 Dallas Cowboys

Mauricio Rodriguez

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How The Tables Have Turned for 2019 Dallas Cowboys

The 2018 season was a two-part tale for the Dallas Cowboys. The first is the story of a mediocre 3-5 team that couldn't get it going offensively. The second part is about a football team that turned its season around, made the playoffs, got a win in the postseason and ultimately lost to the team that ended up representing the NFC in Super Bowl LIII, the Los Angeles Rams.

Surely, 2018 didn't go as planned. The storylines leading to last season are actually very different from the ones we're hearing today. Let's take a look at a few examples of how the tables have turned for the Dallas Cowboys.

The need for a true WR1

Last season, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys preached the philosophy of not needing a #1 wide receiver. While that could've sound encouraging at the time, once the season began the team was proven wrong. They did need a WR1. Fortunately, this season we won't have to worry about it. This year, Dez Bryant shouldn't be a discussion topic among Cowboys' fans.

Amari Cooper is in the house. And he's been pretty good since he started playing with a Star on his helmet. If we have conversations about the WR position, they will not be about who's the #1 guy. With Michael Gallup showing up late in the season, it probably won't be about who is #2 either.

How Cowboys Set up High-Stakes Division Meeting with Eagles at Home

Back on top of the NFC East

Last year, the Dallas Cowboys were not really the favorites to win the NFC East. The Philadelphia Eagles had just made history by winning their first Super Bowl ever and it seemed like the Cowboys would have to get a wildcard spot to play in January. Now it's the Cowboys back on top after sweeping the Eagles and turning their once 3-5 season around.

That of course, means a tougher schedule next season. However, it's nice to be back on top of the division. These two teams will surely have an intense race for the division title next season. Maybe we even see them both in the playoffs for the second consecutive year.

Sean Lee's uncertain future

I'm pretty sure no one expected Sean Lee to be considered a potential cap casualty for the 2019 season. Even if he was, it would've probably been anticipating an injury or something like that. No one would've imagined that Leighton Vander Esch would be so good to take Sean Lee's job.

The Cowboys' first round rookie truly earned the starting role as the defense's weak linebacker and he should keep it. With Sean Lee set to return to the field, I'm sure we didn't expect him to be a backup by now. We'll have to wait and see if the Cowboys decide to part ways with him. As a fan, it would certainly be painful. But we can't deny it would be a move that makes sense.

✭✭✭

It's a crazy franchise on a crazy league. Who knows how things will go from now on, but the Dallas Cowboys certainly look like a promising team heading into the 2019 offseason. Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue to update you with the latest on your favorite NFL team.

Tell me what you think about "How The Tables Have Turned for 2019 Dallas Cowboys" 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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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Volviendo a la Idea de Earl Thomas

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Are the Dallas Cowboys Done Pursuing FS Earl Thomas? 1

El año pasado, Earl Thomas fue uno de los temas de conversación más frecuentes para los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys. Después de que los Seattle Seahawks no le dieran su deseada extensión de contrato, Thomas se convirtió en un candidato a ser intercambiado de su equipo. Entre los favoritos estaban los Cowboys, quienes tenían una necesidad en su defensiva secundaria. Ahora que la temporada 2018 llegó a su fin, la misma necesidad por un safety de calidad está presente en Dallas.

Sólo que en esta ocasión, Earl Thomas no está bajo contrato con ningún equipo. Su último momento con el uniforme de los Seahawks fue en un carro de lesiones, donde salía lesionado en dirección a su vestidor. Esto mientras se despedía de su equipo con el dedo de en medio extendido hacia sus entrenadores y compañeros. Así concluyó su temporada y su carrera en Seattle.

Ahora, listo para cumplir los 30 años en mayo, Earl Thomas probará la agencia libre cuando comience en marzo. Y sin lugar a dudas, uno de los equipos candidatos a firmarlo serán los Dallas Cowboys. Es un equipo que a pesar de tener una de las mejores defensivas la temporada pasada, se vería muy beneficiada con la llegada de un profundo del calibre de Thomas.

A pesar de su edad y las lesiones, Thomas continúa siendo uno de los mejores en la liga. Su talento es innegable y tendrá toda la disposición de demostrar lo que vale cuando tome el campo la próxima temporada. Cuando llegue el momento, podríamos ver una guerra de ofertas entre varios equipos de la NFL para llevarse al veterano a sus respectivas ciudades.

La pregunta es: ¿estarán los Dallas Cowboys en esa guerra de ofertas?

Los Cowboys tienen espacio en el tope salarial. Sin embargo, este no durará mucho considerando que DeMarcus Lawrence está esperando su merecida y cara extensión después de jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia en 2018. Además, jugadores que aún están bajo contrato también estarán buscando ofertas este offseason.

Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, y Byron Jones están en la lista de quehaceres de la administración. Eso sin mencionar a Cole Beasley, cuyo contrato ya expiró y podría llegar a la agencia libre en marzo.

A pesar de esta complicada situación, los Dallas Cowboys deberían buscar conseguir a Thomas. Siendo sinceros, la defensiva tiene mucho talento y podría mantener su nivel en 2019. Pero hace falta un jugador en la posición de safety para llevar a esta unidad a otro nivel. Un nivel realmente capaz de ganar en postemporada enfrentándose a cualquier tipo de ofensiva. Sin importar que tan explosiva sea. Y además de esto, un jugador que sea capaz de robar el balón y hacer jugadas de impacto constantemente.

Cuando los Cowboys se enfrentaron a Seahawks en temporada regular, Thomas dio un buen ejemplo de esto interceptando en dos ocasiones a la ofensiva de Dak Prescott.

A pasos de un equipo de campeonato, un movimiento agresivo para obtener a Earl Thomas sería algo genial para Dallas. Vimos como los Rams de Los Angeles fueron agresivos al construir su equipo y llegaron hasta el Super Bowl este febrero. Quizá es tiempo de que Jerry Jones y compañía sean igual de agresivos y vayan por ese safety elite que la afición lleva pidiendo desde el offseason del año pasado.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Volviendo a la Idea de Earl Thomas" 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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Star Blog

Slot Machine: Amari Cooper in the Slot Could be Even More Dangerous

Brian Martin

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Slot Machine: Cole Beasley Out, Amari Cooper In?

Amari Cooper was a dangerous man with the Dallas Cowboys after he arrived via trade from the Oakland Raiders last season. He was one of the big reasons why they were able to turn around a season that looked as if it was circling the drain and I don't think anybody would argue the point. But, I think he could be even more dangerous in 2019, especially if Cole Beasley departs via free agency.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you pretty much know the topic of the Cowboys offseason so far has centered around Cole Beasley and his future with the organization. He has been invaluable in Dallas since arriving as an undrafted free agent in 2012, but it's looking more and more as if he could be taking his talents elsewhere in 2019.

With Beasley more than likely moving on, the Cowboys will need to find someone who can replace his production in the passing game, especially in the slot. Everybody assumes Dallas needs to go outside the organization to find that player, but I'm not so sure. I think they already have a wide receiver more than capable of stepping in, and he just so happens to be there first-round draft pick this year.

In case you haven't figured it out already, I'm talking about Wide Receiver Amari Cooper. He has mostly been used as an outside receiver in his professional career, but he does have the skill set and route running ability to be a really dangerous out of the slot. I'm not talking about a full-time move into the slot or anything, just a marginal increase in snaps.

Amari Cooper

Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

According to Rotounderworld.com, only 12.6% of Amari Cooper's snaps in 2018 were out of the slot. For comparison sake, Cole Beasley's snaps in the slot was 85.9%, the highest of any receiver in the NFL last season. That's a huge difference, not one the Cowboys should try to match with Cooper or any other potential slot WR replacement.

Personally, I'd like to see Cooper's snaps playing out of the slot increased to around 20%. That would put him in Odell Beckham Jr. territory (19.9%), and we all know how difficult he is to cover all over the field. It would likely do the same for Amari Cooper.

I just really like the idea of him having the entire field to work with and the favorable matchup it creates with slot/nickel cornerbacks around the league. Can you imagine opposing defensive coordinators trying to figure out how to contain a player that has the kind of speed and route running ability that Amari Cooper has? They better stock up on Tylenol, because that is a surefire way to get a headache.

This is course is just speculation at this point, especially since we don't know what the Cowboys offense will look like with Kellen Moore taking over the playcalling duties. But if it was me, I'd be doing everything in my power to get the ball in the hands of my best WR, Amari Cooper, and that might mean increasing his snaps out of the slot.

What do you think about using Amari Cooper out of the slot more often in 2019?



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