Rare are the moments when I get the idea for an article and can't put a mental bookmark on it for later. These are the breaths of fresh air that cause me to run straight to my Macbook and put these thoughts somewhere safe.
It was actually during a run, on a treadmill to be specific, that my latest form of "inspiration" hit. When getting my daily dose of cardio I like to put on some high-quality jams, who doesn't for what it's worth, and my taste is a bit... unique.
When this song came on I immediately kicked it up several notches and pulled the notes app on my iPhone out so that I wouldn't forget what I had going on in my head, which was a new potential nickname for the Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line.
Music video by 'N Sync performing Space Cowboy (Yippie Yi Yay). (C) 2000 Zomba Recording LLC
The Space Cowboys
Nicknames are so important in sports these days. People want to identify a player or group of players with an iconic brand that makes them theirs forever. The Space Cowboys are our guys, our Offensive Line.
Why is that, exactly? The Cowboys part is obvious, but it's the space that's important here... especially to our new star Running Back - Ezekiel Elliott.
This classic song says that "up in outer space there's no gravity to fall," and that space will undoubtedly hold true for young Ezekiel. The "outer" rim of it is simply the second level of the defense... which his star-studded O-Line, the Space Cowboys, will get him to very easily come Sundays this fall.
Elliott has his rocket hitched to these Space Cowboys, and they're going to have him saying "why-yi-yi-yippie-yi-yay-yippie-yi-yo-yippie-yi-yay" all over the gridiron. NSync urges us that "if you wanna fly, take a space ride with the Cowboys."
Seriously, think about the Offensive Line. What's the one thing that they create on a constant basis? It's space! They're the Space Cowboys!
Zeke is indeed going to fly, with the Space Cowboys. Straight into the endzone.
Who Are The Other "Space Cowboys"?
Now that we have things all settled when it comes to the Offensive Line being the Space Cowboys, we can't let them be alone!
If the 'Boys up front are going to be out in orbit we need to give their counterparts corresponding nicknames so that everything makes sense. It is Friday after all so we're feeling good, right?
Here are some potential other orbital outlaws that come to mind.
Mark Watney aka The Martian: Tony Romo
The most resourceful person in the history of Mars, an entire planet, is Mark Watney from the great novel/film The Martian.
Thanks to a horrific set of circumstances Watney is left completely alone on Mars and fights against all odds to grow his own crops and survive before ultimately, spoiler alert, being rescued by his comrades that initially (accidentally) abandoned him.
In his tenure as the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, Tony Romo has had to make do in a similar set of circumstances. There was a time when Tony didn't have the Space Cowboys blocking for him or when he had one of the worst defenses in NFL History. He survived, and so did we, to the point we're at now. A glorious point.
Han Solo: Dez Bryant
Perhaps the most wild personality in the galaxy is Han Solo. We all know, and should acknowledge, that he shot first... and if there's anyone who is willing to shoot first it is Dez Bryant.
Dez is Dez and will Dez as much as Dez can. The football field is his playground and his Jumpman kicks are his Millenium Falcon. In moments of crisis we know that Dez can, and will, deliver in epic fashion.
Oh and for bonus points we'll count Terrance Williams as Chewbacca.
Spock: Jason Witten
Perhaps the wisest person to ever live in space is Spock... er, I mean Jason Witten.
Witten is arguably Vulcan when you consider his longevity and sustained success. There really isn't any other explanation that makes sense.
It seems that Spock is at the center of anything important to the Star Trek series and the same could very well be said of Jason Witten. When you consider the iconic moments in this most recent era of Dallas Cowboys History you'd be hard pressed to find one that doesn't include Jason.
Yoda: Cole Beasley
Underestimate Yoda, you should not.
The small stature of the Jedi Master is something that leads to a ton of incorrect assumptions by members of the Sith all the time. Sith loyalist Giants, Redskins, and Eagles all make that same judgment when it comes to Cole Beasley.
Beasley's small size is his Force, and his quick feet are his lightsaber. His never-quit attitude is what makes him stand taller than the rest, similar to his Space Cowboy counterpart.
Did a Year Away Help Rejuvenate TE Jason Witten’s Game?
Jason Witten is 37 years old, retired from the NFL after the completion of 2017 season to try his luck as an announcer in the booth, but has now decided to come out of retirement to rejoin the Dallas Cowboys? It seems a little unrealistic to think he can come back after a year away from the game and pick up where he left off, but it sounds as if he's like a Phoenix rising from the ashes.
Jason Witten has been the talk of Dallas Cowboys OTA practices so far. These practices are unpadded and basically just an opportunity to do install some of the offensive and defensive plays, but that doesn't make them any less important. One of the things that has been somewhat surprising though is how talked up the future Hall of Famer has become.
Here is what Head Coach Jason Garrett had to say recently about Jason Witten's return:
“Yeah, absolutely. He’s been excited about every part of it ever since I met him and that hasn’t changed,” coach Jason Garrett said. “The work that he’s done in the weight room in the off-season program has been outstanding. His testing numbers and all of that are what they’ve been or even better. And he just has an unbelievable way about him. Tremendous passion for the game. And he demonstrates that every day. Witt looks good. He’s excited to be back and we’re certainly fortunate to have him back.”
The main thing that stands out from Garrett's quote to me is how Jason Witten looks just as good, if not better after not playing at all in 2018. To think that his testing numbers are possibly even better is unfathomable. We typically don't see NFL players in their mid-30s retire from the game and then return just as good, or maybe even better than they were before.
Maybe that's just what Jason Witten is, a little inhuman. Maybe he's found the secret to turning the clock back just a little bit. Or, maybe he found the fountain the youth and didn't tell anybody. Regardless, there's no doubt Witten will be a welcomed addition to the Cowboys offense, especially if he's gained a step.
I don't know about all of you, but I'm hoping the year away from the game did him some good. I honestly thought he made the right decision to retire prior to the 2018 season. It just looked like father time was catching up to him in 2017. But, hopefully all he needed was a little time away from the grind he's been putting his body through for over a decade.
Whatever he's done hasn't gone unnoticed though. Even Quarterback Dak Prescott has noticed and said he's on to Witten's scheme.
“I guess the trick is to take a year off because he’s definitely gotten better, stronger and faster,” Prescott said. “He hasn’t lost a step.”
I'm not afraid to admit I wasn't too excited to see Witten come out of retirement and rejoin the Cowboys at first. I was skeptical he could be the player he once was after a year away from the game. But, all of this talk about him looking as good as he once was, perhaps better, has me really looking forward to seeing him on the field once again.
Do you think a year away has rejuvenated Jason Witten's game?
Cowboys en Español: El Verdadero Cambio en La Ofensiva
Los Dallas Cowboys tuvieron un interesante 2018. La ofensiva dejo mucho que desear toda la primera mitad de la temporada cuando carecían de un receptor número uno. No fue hasta media temporada cuando consiguieron a Amari Cooper de los Oakland Raiders, que la ofensiva comenzó a verse realmente amenazante. Siendo sinceros, el cuerpo de receptores de los Cowboys lucía muy débil al inicio y Michael Gallup aún no conseguía mucho tiempo de juego en el emparrillado. Incluso una vez en el equipo, a pesar de las grandes hazañas de Cooper en Dallas, la ofensiva no terminó de dar el siguiente paso.
Sí, con Amari en el equipo vimos un equipo de Cowboys que movía constantemente las cadenas e incluso se convirtió en una de las mejores unidades en tercera oportunidad en la liga, pero no fue suficiente. Los problemas en zona roja persistieron y continuamos viendo una selección de jugadas muy cuestionable semana tras semana.
Es por eso que al finalizar la temporada, la administración de los Cowboys finalmente tomó una decisión muy anticipada. El entonces coordinador ofensivo, Scott Linehan, fue despedido.
En cuanto a talento, los Dallas Cowboys no verán un cambio mayor en su ofensiva. Cole Beasley, uno de los mejores WR slot en la NFL, firmó con los Buffalo Bills durante la agencia libre. A pesar de la llegada de Randall Cobb, la ofensiva probablemente extrañará bastante a Beasley. Además está el regreso de Jason Witten al campo, quien se repartirá el balón mucho con los jóvenes del equipo, principalmente con Blake Jarwin. Por último, Travis Frederick podría estar de regreso como el centro titular. Fuera de eso, no se anticipan cambios de jugadores en la ofensiva.
Y a pesar de esto, la afición de los Cowboys espera ver un cambio grande entre la ofensiva del 2018 y la de 2019. Si las cosas salen bien, así será. Pero más que por el talento del equipo, que ya está ahí y es un muy buen talento, deberá ser por el hombre al mando.
Kellen Moore ha tomado las riendas como el nuevo coordinador ofensivo y finalmente podremos ver su potencial. Muchos han criticado a Moore, en gran parte por nunca haber sido un quarterback exitoso en la NFL. Sin embargo, hay muchas razones por las cuales deberíamos estar emocionados.
Desde que Moore salió de la universidad de Boise State, se le veía como un prospecto muy inteligente. Incluso analistas como Jon Gruden (en ese entonces conductor del programa de ESPN Gruden's QB Camp) mencionaban que Moore probablemente no sería un gran mariscal, pero que tenía la mente de un coach.
En Boise, Moore trabajaba con la ofensiva del actual coach de los Washington Huskies, Chris Petersen. Esta ofensiva es una muy complicada que le exige al mariscal saber casi tanto como un jugador profesional. Muchos han descrito a Moore como un genio ofensivo que será un gran coach en el futuro.
Para los Cowboys, Kellen Moore será una pieza clave en 2019. Si vemos una ofensiva realmente diferente, será gracias a su creatividad y filosofía que implementa a un grupo bastante talentoso en Dallas. Los jugadores están ahí, ¿sabrá el coordinador ofensivo de 30 años aprovecharlos?
NFL to Study Marijuana Use, Will It Impact Randy Gregory’s Status?
The NFLPA and the NFL have reached an agreement to research alternative pain-management tools for the players. They'll form joint medical committees to study different strategies, among which will be the use of marijuana. It's important to make it clear that said committees will not be exclusively about marijuana, but a lot of different issues related to pain-management in the league. However, it'll likely be one of the most important aspects of their work.
Marijuana continues to be a highly debated topic and it's no different when discussing the NFL. Dallas Cowboys fans should be very familiar with the situation. Earlier this year, David Irving "quit" on football during an Instagram live stream while smoking weed. In the video, Irving talks about how he thinks it's better to be addicted to marijuana rather than certain medications used by NFL teams to treat their players.
Although David Irving is not an authority on substances, that is where all of this debate centers around. Throughout the league, players are given strong medication to deal with injuries and the physical pain of playing pro football. I'm not an expert either, but it's more than fair to say there's a strong argument here. Specially in a country where marijuana has already been legalized in 10 states and the trend points toward legalization continuing.
The current CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) between the NFL and NFLPA will expire after the 2020 season and how the league's drug policy looks like in the new agreement will be a huge factor for reaching a satisfactory CBA for both sides.
Of course, the fact that the NFLPA and the league are working together on such an important task doesn't mean we will see any immediate changes or that the NFL's ban on marijuana will be lifted anytime soon. Many big question marks will have to be answered before we hear about teams implementing this substance as a pain management tool.
For the Dallas Cowboys, this will be a relevant narrative down the line. Pass rusher Randy Gregory was reinstated after serving an indefinite suspension due to substance abuse prior to the 2018 season. After a dominant year, Gregory was suspended again by the NFL and it all points toward him sitting out this upcoming season and perhaps even more.
Even still, the Cowboys are still standing behind their 2015 second round pick. If the league ends up lifting its ban on marijuana, they'll have to decide what they will do with players already serving a suspension for this reason. Guys like Randy Gregory, for instance. If it's decided they'll be reinstated to the NFL, the Cowboys will sure be glad to have supported Gregory all throughout the process.
Last year, the pass rusher proved how effective he could be even with a short period of time training. Hopefully, the Cowboys are able to get him back on the field eventually, where's been consistently dominant. In the meantime, we'll see how recently acquired Robert Quinn does in Dallas.
The NFL won't be lifting its ban anytime soon, but it's good to know they're at least open minded to changing the league's policy and consider alternatives that could benefit the players' health. We'll see how these new medical committees work and keep you updated here at Inside The Star.
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