From 1999-2012, coach Andy Reid was one of the greatest villains for the Dallas Cowboys. As head coach of the division rival Philadelphia Eagles, his team faced the Cowboys at least twice a year and one time in the playoffs. Now, with the Cowboys trying to stay alive in 2017 and keep pace with his old team, Reid returns to Dallas as coach of the Kansas City Chiefs for a critical Week 9 game.
So many of those Cowboys-Eagles games during Reid's tenure were critical to Dallas' overall fate that year. This Sunday's game against the Chiefs isn't that different. At 4-3, Dallas is trying to stay on the right side of .500 and repair their season after three early losses. They're also staring up at a 7-1 Eagles team and needing to stay within reach to hopefully still win the NFC East.
Irony; having to go through another Andy Reid team to try to keep up with Philadelphia.
Cowboys Lost a Legend in First Meeting with Andy Reid
The history between the Cowboys and Andy Reid goes back to one of the worst moments in the rivalry between Dallas and Philadelphia. It was 1999, Reid's first season as Eagles head coach, and his first time meeting the Cowboys. Michael Irvin was driven head-first into the cheap, concrete-like turf of Veterans Stadium and suffered a career-ending neck injury.
Any of us who remember that game remember the cheers of Eagles fans at the sight of The Playmaker's misfortune. For me, it's why the Eagles will always be a notch above the Giants or Washington as my most-hated NFC East rival. That was the start of the Andy Reid era in Philadelphia, and the animosity never wavered.
Side note; current Eagles head coach and Reid disciple Doug Pederson was the starting quarterback for Philly in that game. Does the circle feel a little fuller?
Including that game, Andy Reid would win seven of his first eight meetings against the Cowboys. It was a bad time all around for Dallas, the last gasps of the 90s team and the struggles to transition to the next generation. It's easier to feel better about that in retrospect, but at the time it felt like Reid and the Eagles were almost personally responsible for keeping Dallas from getting off the ground.
Those early wins helped Reid's overall record against the Cowboys, which turned out to be just 17-12 during his time with the Eagles. He tacked on one more win in 2013, the last time the Chiefs played the Cowboys on their usual four-year rotation.
It's Been 4 Years Since the Cowboys and Chiefs Last Tangled
The Chiefs still have Alex Smith at QB, and he's having the best season of his life, but most of their offense has otherwise changed. The Cowboys have had even more changes, with only a handful players remaining from that team. Obviously, the key change is that these are now Dak Prescott's Cowboys.
Unfortunately, another of the Cowboys' newest faces likely won't be available. Ezekiel Elliott has lost his legal protection against his six-game suspension and currently stands to miss this game. His lawyers are trying to get an emergency hearing before the end of the week, but barring that, Zeke will not be part of the welcoming party for Andy Reid and the Chiefs.
This Matchup with Kansas City was Always Going to be Tough
They looked like one of the best teams in the NFL coming into this season and have validated that with a 6-2 start. Thankfully, the Cowboys will get them at home and on a short week as the Chiefs just played on Monday night.
Both teams have adversity to deal with, and both teams have head coaches who've proven capable of leading their teams over those hurdles. Andy Reid and Jason Garrett have gone back-and-forth as opposing head coaches, with Reid having the slight edge at 4-3 in their meetings.
Will Jason tie things up this Sunday? Will the Cowboys pick up a big win against a quality opponent, perhaps even without Ezekiel Elliott, or will this be another time that an Andy Reid team leaves Dallas fans depressed?
Cowboys & DeMarcus Lawrence Fail to Reach New Contract
DeMarcus Lawrence will definitely be a Cowboy in 2018, but now the future beyond that remains in question. The Dallas Cowboys and their star defensive end did not agree to a long-term contract by today's deadline for franchise-tagged players.
According to NFL rules, teams had until 4:00 pm EST today to reach contract extensions with free agents who'd been assigned the franchise tag earlier this offseason. Players who did not get new deals will have to play the 2018 season on their one-year franchise tenders.
DeMarcus Lawrence and the Cowboys were unable to work out a long-term contract by today's deadline. Lawrence will play the 2018 season under a one-year franchise tag that will pay him $17.1 million
This does not mean Lawrence will be a free agent in 2019. The two parties can still discuss the contract in the months to come, but the deal cannot be made until after the end of the regular season.
Dallas also has the option of giving DeMarcus a second franchise tag next year. However, that would come at a considerably higher price for a second-straight season.
This year, Lawrence will still make plenty with one of the highest cap hits of any DE in the league. He earned the franchise tag last with 14.5 sacks in a breakout season.
Today's news may not really be a big deal in the long run. As long as Tank wants to stay in Dallas after this, the two sides now have over five months to keep talking and will hopefully agree on a new deal for 2019 and beyond.
There is risk on both sides, of course.
Lawrence's leverage could be less if his productions drops or he gets injured. On the other hand, his position could be even stronger with a second-straight year of strong play.
Now everyone, from the team to player to fans, is in wait-and-see mode until the end of the season.
Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstatement Decision Due Soon
The Dallas Cowboys should know by the end of this week if Defensive End Randy Gregory will be reinstated by the NFL from his indefinite suspension.
Gregory, who has missed nearly two seasons with drug-related bans, requested in May for Roger Goodell to allow him to return to football. The exact date of the request isn't known, but multiple sources put it somewhere around May 18-20.
According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NFL has 60 days to rule on a reinstatement request. That would put the approximate deadline no later than this Friday, July 20th.
Gregory was a second-round pick for Dallas in 2015. He was considered to have potentially elite pass-rushing skills but red flags about behavior and drug use hurt his draft stock.
Obviously those warning signs were warranted. Over three seasons, Randy has missed 30 out of 48 games due to suspension.
But reports from around the Cowboys organization and others who've dealt with Gregory rehabilitation efforts are positive. His appeal request appears strong, backed up by several testimonials that he's turned his life around.
Will Roger Goodell agree? Will Randy Gregory return to the Cowboys 2018?
We should know the answer soon.
Dak Prescott Ranked as Third Least Consistent QB in NFL
Last season could've gone a lot better for Dak Prescott. After a remarkable rookie season, he wasn't able to meet the very high expectations put on him after leading the Dallas Cowboys to the #1 seed in the NFC in 2016.
Inevitably, the "sophomore slump" managed to get to Dak, even though the numbers make it seem worse than it really was. From his 13 interceptions in 2017, not even half can be completely blamed on him. However, even though he made improvements in his game, it's fair to admit that there was indeed, a slump in his second year in the NFL.
Earlier this week, NFL.com published an article listing the most and the least consistent quarterbacks in the league last season. The way the list works is measuring "their average 2017 swing in week-to-week passer rating." In the list, Dak Prescott is listed as the third least consistent QB in the league, with only Cam Newton and Derek Carr behind him.
Just like the Dallas Cowboys' had a roller coaster for a season, constantly shifting between winning and losing, Dak Prescott also struggled at remaining consistent. It makes a ton of sense, of course, for the Cowboys' 9-7 season had a lot of swings throughout the year.
At times, the team was missing its most important defender in Sean Lee. At others, Tyron Smith and/or Ezekiel Elliott weren't on the field either. This is not an attempt to excuse Dak, for he is partly at fault here, as is the entire team.
From week 10 to 12, Dak failed to throw for a touchdown but ended up throwing five interceptions. Later in the season, failing once again to get a TD pass in two straight weeks, he threw for two interceptions at Oakland then another two when hosting the Seahawks in Dallas.
In a season that will likely determine his future with the Dallas Cowboys, Dak needs to find a way to be more consistent week after week regardless of circumstance. Hopefully, with an improved offensive line and with Ezekiel Elliott leaving every suspension drama behind him, his offense will put him in position to have his best year yet.
In 2016 and in 2017, his Total Quarterback Rating has been in the top 4 among all quarterbacks, per ESPN. Now, this is not a stat that tells the whole story, but it does give you an idea of each quarterback's play. In a run-first offense and with a safe passer like Dak, I'm sure consistency will not be hard to deal with for the young QB next season.
As long as he takes advantage of the new set of targets he'll have at his disposal and his offense's powerful running back with recently-signed draftee Connor Williams, this offense will look a lot more like the one we saw in 2016.
We know Dak Prescott has a lot to prove. He has to make longer throws, throw more aggressively to get his receivers open, and more. But consistency is just as important. In order to be continuously successful and to be a contender year after year, you need that in your signal-caller. Even if key players on the team are down, he needs to be able to shine. It's a sixteen-game season, after all.
It's time for Dak to prove he can handle that.
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