If this is your second time looking at this, you may have noticed I had my number's backwards. It was the Giants that led the Redskins by 10 going into the half, 17 to 7. So the Redskins are pretty much who we thought they were. But as I will expound on further down, this game really mean's nothing, considering that they lost to the Giant's in the opener last year and still beat our beloved Cowboy's in week four last season. Therefore, there really isn't much you can take from the stats compiled in this game; especially if you consider how mediocre our otherwise capable of being dominant, Cowboys defense played against the Bucs.
The running back that seem's to have broken the Redskins back was actually Ahmad Bradshaw, averaging 5 yards per carry on 12 attempts yielding 60 yards. The perennial trash talker Brandon Jacobs was held to a measely 2.9 yards per carry with 16 touches totalling 46 yards. Real quick side bar - the Cowboys, regardless of this next weeks meeting's outcome, should be able to shut Brandon Jacobs up, albeit temporarily. On the other side of the ball, Clinton Portis had the most yard's for the day, but was well below average in terms of production with 3.9 yards per carry on 16 attempts, 34 of which was on their first play from scrimmage; in other word's, after his first run, he averaged 1.8 per carry. The big question here is, is Clinton Portis that poor of a runner, or is the Giant's run defense that stout. Considering Portis' career average of 4.4 per carry, I'm leaning toward's the latter. Of course, this could also be an indictment of the OL and/or coaching, but considering Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Barry Cofield, and Fred Robbins, with back-ups who could start for most team's such Chris Canty and Mathias Kiwanuka, I suspect it's mostly because the Giant's are just that good against the run. But getting back to the team in question...the Redskins defense, looked stout throughout the majority of the game against the run, but came up short when stop's were crucial. Of course, many fan's are pointing towards the play calling of Jim Zorn, whose three back-to-back unimaginative running play's following a goal line stand, gift wrapped a short field for the Giants, where the Giants eventually scored.
As I was digging for a description of the game, I happened upon the following, from an actual fan and since I have thing's I'd rather be writing about and the following is about as unbiased as you can get considering it's criticism from an actual fan, I'm going to steal it. So, with out further ado...
Jim Zorn was determined to rush the ball, but the Giants would not permit it. After a 34-yard run on their first offensive play from scrimmage, Clinton Portis and the rest of the running backs did nothing, gaining 51 yards on 20 carries.
Curious about that poll? Here are the results out of the Redskins other 23 fans (lol): Coaching 60% with 15 votes, Jason Campbell 12% with 3 votes, Pass Defense 24% with 6 votes, Wide Receivers 0% (please don't ask how many voted on this) and Other 4% with 1 vote. There were actually 25 votes, but I voted for coaching and I'm sure the contributor voted accordingly.
For anyone planning on walking away from this thinking that's two more W's we can add to our win/loss ratio prior to the actual games, please note that regardless of how the Redskins play other team's, they always show up against the Cowboys. For as long as I have been trying to predict what to expect from these Deadskins, the only thing I've been right about is to not underestimate them.
Furthermore, Albert Haynesworth, regarless of the apology and accepted apology exchanged between he and Andre Gurode, will be looking to be vindicated. Why? The storyline that you don't hear about, when the infamous face stomp is brought up, is why Albert was so frustrated he lost his temper. The truth is, he was getting man-handled, Gurode refusing to give up any ground, despite Haynesworth pile-pusher reputation. Any NT worth 100 million should draw double-coverage, especially from the Center. If he doesn't against Gurode, the Redskins, as well the rest of the nation will know he is what we all think he is: Vastly overpaid.
And then of course there is the Cowboy killer Santana Moss. Newman shut him down in our last meeting, but the big question is will Newman remain healthy throughout the year? (cricket's chirp)
All in all, the first game is somewhat of a waste of time to analyze, for several reason's: First and foremost, there is no game tape from the previous game to study, for the exception of preseason, where most team keep it basic so they don't tip their hand. Second, many player's, particluarly the younger one's, will get a mad case of the jitter's, likely taking a half to really get into the flow of the game. Third, it's the first game the starters play for 4 quarters. Not only are these players physically tested in terms of their conditioning, but their mind set changes when they know they have to maintain the same intensity for 1 hour. It might not seem like much, given the relatively small amount of time transpired during each play, but with the excitement of playing and the concentration that has to be applied for each position, it can be very taxing on the body, mind and spirit of a given player. Combine the above 3 and the result's will vary for team's. The Cowboy's were fortunately able to reign in their collective focus and put together what most of us thought they could be as a team in the 2nd half against the Bucs. The Redskins fell flat in their opener on the road, but by week 11, the first time the Cowboys and Redskins meet, will know alot more about this team and what they are capable of.
5 Points: Analyzing the 2018 Dallas Cowboys Schedule
Every year around this time, sports fans everywhere are reminded of just how dominant the National Football League is. The NFL schedule release is literally just the sharing of a calendar that has little meaning until after next week's NFL Draft, but still dominates headlines both before and after the event.
If the Dallas Cowboys are going to return to the playoffs in 2018, we now know the path they will take -- beginning on September 9th in Carolina against the Panthers.
Here are five of my initial thoughts on this team's schedule.
1. "Early" Bye Week Still Later Than Recent Seasons
The Cowboys' bye week falls in week eight this season, which is certainly nothing new. This team is used to having their bye earlier in the season, but week eight is actually the latest it's been over the last three seasons.
In Dak Prescott's rookie season, the Cowboys rolled to six straight wins following their bye week - all part of a longer 11 game win streak. In 2017, the Cowboys played their final three games with Ezekiel Elliott after the bye, improving to 5-3 and inspiring hope for a salvageable season before further injuries piled up.
This season, the Cowboys will come out of their bye week to host Monday Night Football at AT&T Stadium against the Tennessee Titans.
2. AFC South to Play A Huge Factor
Speaking of the Titans, it is the NFC East's year to face off against the AFC South. This has been an unpredictable division as of late, with the Jacksonville Jaguars emerging as early favorites following their improbable run to the AFC Championship Game.
Unlike the NFC East, the AFC South has been decided by who maintains stability at quarterback. The Colts are hoping to contend with Andrew Luck back on the field in 2018, as are the Texans with second-year QB Deshaun Watson.
The Titans overhauled their coaching staff in hopes of progressing QB Marcus Mariota further to make a run at the playoffs once again.
For the Cowboys, their meetings with the AFC South will carry extra weight - as all but one of them precedes a divisional game in some sense. Following back to back games at the Texans and home against the Jaguars, the Cowboys will visit the Redskins in week seven.
The first shot Dallas will get at the defending Super Bowl champions will be November 11th in Philadelphia, two weeks removed from their bye after facing the Titans.
Coming out of two games in 12 days through weeks 12 (Thanksgiving) and 13, the Cowboys will have little chance to come up for air against the Eagles in week 14. Their chance to regroup may come the following week, with a favorable December road game in Indianapolis against the Colts.
3. Revenge Against the Falcons
The Cowboys' week 10 game a year ago in Atlanta is truly where the 2017 season was lost. Playing without Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys looked lost on offense thanks to the added absence of All-Pro Left Tackle Tyron Smith.
The Cowboys' fight to carry on at 5-4 was buried into the Falcons' new turf, as was Dak Prescott that afternoon, sacked eight times.
Only a week removed on the calendar from meeting the Falcons on the same date, the Cowboys will again play at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in week 11 this season. The chance for revenge against the Falcons will also mark the only pair of consecutive road games this 2018 Dallas Cowboys team will play.
4. Running Through December
The national media may not want you to know that the Cowboys are a combined 6-2 in December over the last two seasons, as this team's fabled late season collapses remain a topic of conversation.
This point also stands as a great example of why breaking down team schedules in April is often a pointless exercise, but not obsessing over every twist and turn of the NFL as a yearly hobby is no fun. According to me.
It is no secret that the Cowboys will be relying heavily on Ezekiel Elliott in 2018, expecting their star running back to suit up for 16 games and carry the offense. If you believe that Prescott and Elliott paired together full-time again is enough reason for optimism about the Cowboys, their December schedule becomes even more favorable.
Aside from playing three of the four games indoors and away from the elements, the Cowboys will face three of the worst rushing defenses in yards per game allowed from last season in December. With the Eagles being the glaring exception (leading the league in this category), the Cowboys should have their way on the ground with the Colts, Buccaneers, and Giants over their final three games.
5. Thanksgiving Tradition
For the second time in three seasons, the Dallas Cowboys will host the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys were victorious on Thanksgiving in 2016 over the Redskins, 31-26.
The Cowboys have only lost to the Redskins once on Thanksgiving, facing them a total of eight times and dropping a 2012 bout with Washington 38-31 (Robert Griffin III's rookie season with the Redskins).
Riding a four game winning streak against the Redskins, the Cowboys get to face an Alex Smith led Washington team on Thanksgiving to wrap up their first series against the NFC East. Following week 12, the Cowboys will still have meetings with the Eagles and New York Giants.
Some may look at this year's division as a two-team race, but counting absolutely any team out of an NFC East race is foolish - even more so in April.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
By this time next week, the Dallas Cowboys have a chance to look entirely different - adding as many as ten players at the 2018 NFL Draft. Only then will we have a better feel for how they stack up against this 2018 schedule.
Stay posted right here to Inside The Star for draft coverage live from Dallas, as I will be at AT&T Stadium for all seven rounds of picks alongside Slant Sports Draft Analyst Nick Flaherty.
Cowboys TE James Hanna Retiring
In an unexpected bit of pre-draft news, Dallas Cowboys backup tight end James Hanna will be retiring after six seasons. He was drafted by the Cowboys in sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
The news of Hanna's retirement was first reported by ESPN's Todd Archer:
The Cowboys will place James Hanna on the reserve/retired list as the tight end could not get over a serious knee condition that troubled him for most of the last two seasons, according to sources. Hanna was not involved in the early part of the team's... https://t.co/45BAZ2avSC
Hanna, who turns 29 in July, missed all of 2016 with that knee issue and has had two surgeries. He was active for all 16 games last season but wasn't used much on offense, only having four catches. James did catch his first and only NFL touchdown in the team's Week 4 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
Many thought Hanna would be a salary cap casualty this offseason, but a retirement has the same effect on the cap. The Cowboys now save $2.75 million off his scheduled $3.5 mullion cap hit in 2018.
James Hanna has stuck around this long thanks to being a proficient blocker and one of the standout players on special teams. Geoff Swaim, entering the final year of his rookie deal, will likely be trusted to fill those roles.
That said, tight end was already a targeted position for the Cowboys in next week's draft. Losing Hanna only give the team more incentive to add more talent.
Optimistic Reports Emerge Around Randy Gregory
Good news are coming to Dallas just in time. Less than a week from now, the NFL Draft will be held in the Cowboys' home, the AT&T Stadium. But the team may count with a defensive talent many in Cowboys Nation have tried to forget for a while now. Randy Gregory's comeback may just happen.
There's a lot of positions in the roster that need more help than the defensive end one, but after finding the "War Daddy" Jerry Jones has always wanted in DeMarcus Lawrence, finding a RDE this offseason would be a dream scenario.
Sure, there's a lot of young talent in this football team and they'll be coming off a season that put a chip on their shoulders. Even so, they'll need all the help they can get.
Fortunately for the Cowboys, some help could come in form of a very talented pass rusher. Randy Gregory is reportedly applying for reinstatement very soon and according to Mike Fisher and Bobby Belt, there are positive reports around the situation.
Randy Gregory update: I'm told there is real momentum building. He is expected to apply for reinstatement in the week or two following next week's NFL Draft.
Cowboys Nation last saw the second round pick back in 2016, but his potential shouldn't be forgotten. Of course, the Cowboys shouldn't be considering Gregory for their 2018 plans, simply because there's risk of him not being available.
Even still, Dallas may get lucky at defensive end. After DeMarcus Lawrence has a breakout season in 2017, imagine the defensive line with Randy Gregory reinstated and rehabilitated to exploit his talent in the NFL.
UPDATE: We're told Randy Gregory camp is ready to present to NFL the fact the #Cowboys DE has passed a large number of drug tests, hasn't failed one since July 2016. https://t.co/Hjgu2CqRtC
Despite some TMZ "reports", it looks like Gregory has been clean for a while. It sure should make Cowboys' fans happy and not only form a football perspective. A comeback would definitely be something amazing. He has a chance to write a unique story for himself.
Everyone likes second-chance stories. Gregory is a guy who had his share of problems. By coming back to the NFL, he's showing players and fans that change is possible. This wouldn't just be epic for Dallas Cowboys fans but NFL fans in general.
If Dallas is fortunate enough to see Gregory reinstated by the NFL, their fight in the trenches might see a big upgrade next season. Randy still has a lot to work on and he might not even be a starter right away, but the potential is right there.
The Cowboys could become a team capable of dominating the line of scrimmage both on offense and on defense.
Hopefully, Gregory is able to come back and shine as a professional player. He, and NFL fans deserve a story like that.
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