The month of July is the peak of off-season. Training camp will soon open up and then we all will get our first glimpses of the 2018 Dallas Cowboys in the pre-season. Not too long after that, the season begins. This Cowboys team has been defined by their past two seasons, from the successes and surprises of 2016 to the disappointments and setbacks of 2017. The team has gone 22-10 in that time span and is now a team expected to make the playoffs every year.
It's probably unfair to expect so much of a team, and even more unfair to expect serious output from their players. But this is the Dallas Cowboys, and the expectations blow the roof off AT&T Stadium.
What can we expect from the 2018 Cowboys? It features a complete offensive line, a fully-loaded Ezekiel Elliott, a talented secondary, and a deep core of pass rushers. Maybe fans expect too much of the Cowboys, but maybe they expect so much because they know it's entirely possible.
These predictions are bold, but very much a possibility. The team has the skills to make it happen, and if they accomplish what's written, they'll be a force to be reckoned with.
Dak Prescott will have a top 5 QBR AGAIN!!!
In Dak Prescott's rookie year, he had the third-highest QB Rating in the league. Unfortunately, 2017 was a setback. He was asked to target Dez Bryant and Jason Witten more often, instead of spreading the ball as evenly as he prefers.
This may surprise you, but Dak Prescott actually had the 4th highest QBR in the league last season.
Despite throwing 13 interceptions, QBR is a stat that's able to decipher not only the numbers put up, but the plays the quarterback was responsible for. Meaning, if his QBR was that high in a "down year," it means the bulk of the turnovers (interceptions/fumbles) were not his fault.
The Cowboys will go into the 2018 season with an almost brand new group of tight ends and receivers. There is probably no true number one threat among the pass catchers, but that is a perfect world for Prescott. The more the merrier. In 2016, Prescott had three players with 90 targets or more. In, 2017 he only had one.
Dak Prescott will win games through his accuracy, mobility, will to win, and by not exclusively throwing it to just one or possibly two players. Big things are on the horizon for number 4.
There WILL be a 1,000-yard receiver
Even though Dak Prescott will have more weapons to spread the ball around, it doesn't mean one of them won't eventually click with Prescott more than anyone else and become the most reliable weapon.
But who will it be? The team has options.
The obvious choices are Cole Beasley and Allen Hurns. Hurns has a 1,000-yard receiving season under his belt and will likely be moved back outside where he thrived.
Beasley is one of Dak’s favorite and most dependable targets, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Beasley could have a Jarvis Landry or Julian Edelman-type of season.
Terrance Williams and Michael Gallup are the other logical choices. While Williams has left a lot to be desired, he is currently listed as a starter along with Beasley and Hurns. Following a season of scrutiny and off the field issues, he may end up playing for his life.
Gallup is the question mark. He’s got a lot of upside and is probably the second best route runner on the team next to Beasley. Including his big-play ability and large catch radius, Gallup could be in for a surprise rookie season and become Prescott’s favorite new toy.
Multiple Cowboys will have 6 or more sacks
A good problem to have is when you have too many good players at one position. Who would’ve thought that group would be the pass rushers?
Two years ago, the Cowboys had a serious need. Their sack leader was Benson Mayowa, who had six sacks all year. Present day, the Cowboys have an All-Pro in DeMarcus Lawrence, the return of Randy Gregory, and a slew of dependable defensive linemen.
The Cowboys have players like David Irving, Maliek Collins, Tyrone Crawford, Taco Charlton, Charles Tapper, Lewis Neal, and Datone Jones returning. New additions Dorance Armstrong Jr., Jihad Ward, and Kony Ealy complete a ridiculously stacked defensive line.
Lawrence, Irving, Collins, Charlton, Crawford and Gregory all look like the most likely players to get 6+ sacks, but with the talented depth the Cowboys have, don’t be surprised if even more names end up here.
Cowboys will send 5 O-linemen to the Pro Bowl
Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Travis Frederick are virtual locks each season. They are among the best at their positions and are always a safe bet to be elected to the Pro Bowl. They are three of the key components to the core of the team and they haven’t disappointed.
La’el Collins moved to right tackle full-time last season and had a mixed bag of a season.
The first half of the season, he showed potential but with a lot of growing pains. In the second half of the season, Collins seemed to finally get comfortable and played up to par with his talent. It’s arguable that he was a Pro Bowl snub last season, even as an alternate. This season, I think he makes that mark.
Finally, the Cowboys got a 1st round talent in 2nd round offensive lineman, Connor Williams, from the University of Texas. Many Cowboys fans are also Longhorn fans, so much of the state was elated at the 50th overall pick.
Aside from Quenton Nelson, who was picked at 6 overall, Williams was arguably the 2nd best lineman prospect, allowing only one sack during his time in college. He’ll be plugged in at left guard and start immediately, completing The Great Wall of Dallas.
Jaylon Smith will be the best player on the defense
I must be insane right? With players like Sean Lee, DeMarcus Lawrence, Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and 1st rounder Leighton Vander Esch on the team, why Jaylon Smith?
For starters, he’s healthy.
If we just go simply off each prospect based on how they were coming out of college, Jaylon Smith was the best. Had he not torn his ACL and MCL, he might’ve been picked at 4 overall in 2016 instead of Ezekiel Elliott.
The first half of the 2017 season, Jaylon Smith was a bit of a liability. He couldn’t move laterally and was picked on in coverage. As the season progressed, his movement and speed got back to normal and he was tackling everyone with much more ease.
2018 will be Jaylon Smith’s breakout year and a sign of seasons to come. The Cowboys defense will be much better in 2018, and Smith will be a big reason why.
The rookie receivers will shine brightest
Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson were both receivers that I was very high on going into the draft. So obviously, I was elated when they were both selected by the Cowboys.
Michael Gallup is an eventual-number one receiver in an offense where route running is essential for Dak Prescott. Not only is Gallup a fantastic route runner, he has some of the best hands of this year's rookie class. I don’t know if he’ll ever be a Pro Bowl receiver but I do know his upside is that of a potential game-breaker in this offense.
Cedrick Wilson has a lot of similarities with Gallup; he's quick, a good route runner, and has good hands. One area where Wilson has the advantage is his down-the-field ability. He made a lot of big plays at Boise State and I hope he gets chances to showcase it his rookie year.
By the end of the year, at least one of these two will be a starter. By the end of next season, I expect the other to as well.
The Cowboys will have the best secondary in the NFL
Hiring Kris Richard was the best off-season moves the Cowboys made.
Richard helped create the Legion of Boom in Seattle, but that took time to gather the talent and make it all work. The new secondary coach -- and eventual successor of the defensive coordinator job -- already has a built machine. It just needs to run.
In Dallas, he’s got plenty of talented players already. Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Jourdan Lewis give him maybe the best young trio of corners in the league. At safety, he’s got more potential than skills. Xavier Woods is the ballhawk they need, Kavon Frazier is the hard-hitter, and then there's the G.O.A.T. himself, Jeff Heath.
After the Cowboys complete the trade with Seattle to obtain Earl Thomas by giving them a player (possibly Terrance Williams) and a 3rd round pick, the secondary will be complete and become the next elite group in the NFL. It will be scary good.
How The Seattle Seahawks Have Increased Importance In Cowboys’ Lore
You can't talk about this decade's Dallas Cowboys without discussing the Seattle Seahawks.
In 2012, when Golden Tate took out Sean Lee on a crack-back block and the Seahawks embarrassed a Cowboys team who had just defeated the defending champion New York Giants, we saw which of the two teams was truly ready for the big stage.
In 2014, as Rolando McClain intercepted Russell Wilson and the Cowboys clinched a critical road victory, we knew that Dallas was a legit contender.
In 2015, when Seattle finally came to Dallas and rendered the return of Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant meaningless in a 13-12 win, the then 2-5 Cowboys were sent further into a Romo-less abyss.
And, in 2017, Dez Bryant's key drops and Dan Bailey's missed field goals during a horrendous home loss to the Seahawks on Christmas Eve might have sealed each of their fates for the following offseason.
The most important moment in this Cowboys/Seahawks history, however, occurred during a preseason game. A meaningless preseason game which turned out to be the most meaningful day in recent Cowboys history.
Cliff Avril dragging Tony Romo down from behind, effectively ending his career, and kicking off the roster massive turnover we have seen the last two offseasons. From Dak Prescott, to a brand new secondary, to the retirement of Jason Witten, and the cutting of Dez Bryant. All of this change, which put an end to the Romo era rosters in Dallas, began with that hit in Seattle.
Since 2012 the Cowboys, and the rest of the NFC really, have been judged by how they play against two teams: the Packers and the Seahawks.
They have been the class of the NFC, and while we like to think that if the "Dez Caught It" game went how it should have Dallas would've handled Seattle, that will forever be an unknown.
Sunday's game is not expected to carry the franchise-changing implications that some of these other match ups have had. The Seahawks are 0-2 and reeling, with a shaky offensive line and reported distrust throughout the organization.The Cowboys, however, can jump-start their season with a big road win over a winless team that they should beat in the minds of many.
But knowing how things between these teams tend to go, Sunday afternoon may end up having major implications on the rest of the Cowboys' season.
Where this could be the case is in a potential Earl Thomas trade. It's been speculated that Seattle has been hesitant to deal Thomas to Dallas before their week 3 match up, but could be more willing to do so after the game.
Especially if that game is a loss which sends them to 0-3. The Cowboys have been actively pursuing Earl Thomas, and Thomas has certainly made it clear that he wants to be in Dallas. The only party not willing to make it happen thus far, are the Seahawks.
So, this weekend, there is a chance another chapter is added to those franchise-changing moments in Cowboys/Seahawks lore.
A Look Around The NFC East: Week 3
Week two didn't go as planned for much of the NFC East, with only the Dallas Cowboys reigning victorious last Sunday.
Now, three teams are locked in a tie for first place at 1-1, with the New York Giants lagging behind with a winless record. Week 3 is shaping up to be a potential early turning point, however, with Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz returning and each team facing a very beatable opponent.
Let's take a look around the division and see what the Cowboys' foes will be facing this week.
The Eagles fell victim to one of the more surprising upsets of the weekend last Sunday, as Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the Eagles 27-21. While their defense got off to a shaky start in the loss, it was the offense which proved too little too late in their push down the stretch.
Carson Wentz is expected to not only return but to start on Sunday in the Eagles' match up against the Colts. Indianapolis upset the Washington Redskins last week, but will be 6 point underdogs when the game kicks off in Philadelphia on Sunday.
Wentz should give the defending champs an extra boost, and while they haven't looked as dominant as many expected through the first two games, this could be the game to spring them the rest of the way.
As mentioned earlier, the Redskins fell in Indianapolis last week, and are now tied for first place in the division with a 1-1 record. As dominant and impressive as Washington looked in their opener against Arizona, Washington's week two loss featured lethargic offensive play for four quarters.
This week the Redskins are three point home underdogs as Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers come to town. Green Bay tied Minnesota a week ago, but behind Rodgers and their potent offense, they have the chance to take advantage of Washington's suspect secondary down the field.
Sunday will be a tough test for the Redskins as they look to get back above .500 against a tough conference opponent.
New York Giants
The Giants' season is on the brink this week, and that really isn't a dramatic statement at all. Now at 0-2 with a division loss to the Cowboys last week, the Giants have to beat the 0-2 Texans on Sunday to get some confidence and keep pace within the conference.
Lucky for them, the Texans haven't looked impressive whatsoever through two games. Unlucky for them, the Texans have strong pass rushers like JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney ready to abuse their weak offensive line.
Houston is a six point home favorite over the Giants, proving it will be an uphill battle for New York to save their season.
Cowboys en Español: La Defensiva de Dallas es Muy Real
Después de dos semanas de acción de los Dallas Cowboys, una cosa ha quedado más que clara. La defensiva del coordinador defensivo Rod Marinelli ha demostrado que es realmente buena. No como en otros años, que nos conformábamos con que la defensiva dejará avanzar y cediera tres puntos hasta que se rompía en el último cuarto.
No, ahora es diferente. Este año, los Dallas Cowboys tienen presión al QB opuesto. No sólo DeMarcus Lawrence, sino Taco Charlton, Randy Gregory y recientemente, los linebackers. Hemos visto a Jaylon Smith y Damien Wilson brindar presión y sobre todo, llegar a sus objetivos.
Los linebackers no han brillado sólo en esto, sino en otros ámbitos defensivos, como cobertura aérea y más. Incluso Joe Thomas ha logrado mantener su nivel que vimos en pretemporada cuando se le ha pedido entrar al campo.
Y en cuanto a la secundaria, no podríamos estar más agradecidos con la actuación de nuestros cornerbacks. Byron Jones está jugando a un nivel increíble. La semana pasada, Eli Manning sólo se atrevió a lanzar el balón en su dirección en cinco ocasiones. En esas cinco, consiguió sólo un pase completo para cero yardas. Chidobe Awuzie también ha tenido un gran inicio al 2018, manteniendo un nivel de juego consistente y efectivo. Estamos hablando de que el domingo pasado, estos dos cornerbacks se enfrentaron a uno de los mejores WR en la NFL, Odell Beckham Jr.
Finalmente, la posición de safety se ha visto como la unidad más débil en la defensiva. Jeff Heath es un titular promedio y Kavon Frazier tiene mucho camino por recorrer. Afortunadamente, hay esperanza de que Xavier Woods regrese de lesión este domingo.
A pesar de que en el 2016 todos veíamos a la ofensiva como nuestro futuro, es sorprendente el nivel que ha mostrado la defensiva. Es más agresiva, más efectiva y más confiable que en otros años. No podemos subestimar la llegada del coach Kris Richard al equipo.
Sobre todo después de que en el partido contra los New York Giants y los Carolina Panthers se demostró que Richard está involucrado directamente con las decisiones de las jugadas que se ejecutarán en el campo. Incluso Marinelli no tuvo problemas admitiendo que efectivamente, Richard estaba ganándose un rol en este aspecto.
Esto es muy relevante para los Dallas Cowboys, pues una de las cosas más destacadas que hemos visto las últimas semanas es el usaje de cargas o "blitzes" especiales en varias oportunidades. Incluyendo tercer down y largo.
Es algo que no habíamos visto nunca con el conservador Marinelli y que claramente es producto de Richard. Este personaje que viene de los Seattle Seahawks continua emergiendo como un candidato real al puesto de coordinador defensivo en el 2019 o quien sabe, quizá sea nombrado head coach si las cosas comienzan a ir mal para este equipo.
Sin duda alguna, la defensiva ha demostrado que es muy confiable y real. Es tiempo de que la ofensiva de Dallas responda a esto y comience a mover más las cadenas y sobre todo, aprovechar las oportunidades que tengan de anotar touchdowns. Empezar a depender de goles de campo nunca sale bien.
Sobre la llegada de Brice Butler
Increíblemente, Brice Butler regresó a los Dallas Cowboys, incluso después de todos los comentarios que hizo en ciertos programas de televisión. La primera reacción al respecto fue de confusión; ¿por qué regresar con un receptor que nunca fue tan especial y que habló tanto de Dallas?
La respuesta a esta pregunta se esclareció un poco este jueves por la noche cuando surgieron los rumores de que Terrance Williams, quien fue arrestado en el offseason por intoxicación pública, podría ser suspendido pronto por la NFL.
Esto probablemente no sucederá antes del partido de la semana 3, pero de todas maneras explica mucho sobre el último movimiento de los Cowboys.
En un partido bastante cerrado, creo que la defensiva de los Dallas Cowboys hará lo suficiente para llevarse la victoria. Es de suma importancia derribar a Russell Wilson y sobre todo, que la ofensiva tenga su mejor actuación de la campaña. La defensiva de Seahawks es bastante efectiva y no será sencillo vencerlos.
Marcador: Dallas Cowboys 21 - Seattle Seahawks 17
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