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Texans Game Starts Tough 3-Week Stretch for Dallas Cowboys

Jess Haynie

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Cole Beasley, Texans

The Dallas Cowboys will begin a tough run of games this week in Houston, facing the Texans on Sunday Night Football. Over the next three weeks, Dallas will be put the test as they try to stay above .500 before their Week 8 bye.

There's some positive momentum with the Cowboys coming off last week's victory over the Detroit Lions. Not only did Dallas get to 2-2, but Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott had their best games so far this season.

Last week, I mentioned how the difference between 2-2 and 1-3 feels like a lot more than just one game. One could make the same statement about being 3-2 or 2-3 after Sunday, especially given the two games that come after the Texans.

In Week 6, Dallas returns home to host the 3-1 Jacksonville Jaguars. The following week, the Cowboys go on the road for their 2018 meeting with Washington.

So over these next three games, that's two on the road against opponents who will treat it like their personal Super Bowl. The one home game is against one of the best teams in the league right now.

Ouch.

Even though Houston is currently 1-3, just getting their first win of 2018 last week, it would be a mistake to underestimate them. They should still give the Cowboys all they can handle.

J.J. Watt

Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt

In their three losses, Houston never lost by more than a touchdown. Their first two were road games against the Patriots (27-20) and divisional-rival Titans (20-17).

Their worst loss, by far, was at home to the Giants. But that still was just a 27-22 score.

Deshaun Watson has thrown over 300 yards in his last three games. Over the last two weeks, he's had 385 and 375 passing yards each week. Still less than a year removed from ACL surgery, the 2017 rookie sensation appears to finding his rhythm again.

The Texans will bring a hot offense and renewed confidence to this week's game, plus the ever-intense desire to beat their in-state rival. These games always mean more to Houston than Dallas.

And again, this will probably be the easiest of the three games Dallas has ahead.

Next week, Jaguars' cornerback Jalen Ramsey will make sure there is plenty of hype for his first meeting with the Cowboys. The corner is still bitter about not being drafted by Dallas in 2016, and he's been very vocal about it.

From there we get the Redskins and everything comes with the rivalry. It could even be for the division lead by that point, with Washington currently ahead of Dallas and Philadelphia by just half a game.

The Cowboys get their bye week after all of this, and it'd be great to see them at 5-2 or at least 4-3 going in. But clearly, they're going to have to put in some work to get there.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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Dallas Cowboys

Should Cowboys Consider Bringing Back Alex Tanney as Backup QB?

Jess Haynie

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Alex Tanney

If the Dallas Cowboys aren't happy about their quarterback depth by the end of preseason, they should be looking to add someone from other teams' roster cuts. One player that could become available is a former Cowboy, Alex Tanney, and he may be one of the best options they'll have.

Tanney is currently with the New York Giants and served as Eli Manning's backup last year. He's floated around the NFL since going undrafted in 2012, being part of eight different teams.

Alex's tenure in Dallas came in 2013 when the Cowboys signed him just before training camp. Tanney flashed his potential during the preseason but it wasn't enough to get him on the 53-man roster. Dallas kept just two QBs that year, Tony Romo and Kyle Orton, and signed Tanney to their practice squad.

In November of that season, the Cleveland Browns poached Alex and signed him to their roster. Then came a series of stops with other teams' practice squad before finally landing with the Tennessee Titans, where he got his first and only playing time in a regular season game.

In 2015, Tanney finished the Titans meaningless regular-season finale. He completed 10-of-14 passes for 99 yards and one touchdown.

Alex Tanney

New York Giants QB Alex Tanney

After spending last year with the Giants as the backup QB but never having to play, Tanney re-signed with New York for a two year deal this past March. But that was before the Giants spent their first-round pick on QB Daniel Jones

New York has kept three quarterbacks on the roster the last two years, but only kept two in 2016. With a clear top-two of Manning and Jones, and Daniel obviously their QB of the future, could they decide to let their other passers go at final cuts?

By only giving Tanney $75,000 in guaranteed money on his new contract, the Giants certainly left themselves the option of cutting him.

Alex Tanney now has seven years of NFL experience with multiple teams. He'll have just spent a full year and a second offseason with one of the Cowboys' division rivals, perhaps offering some insights into Pat Shurmur's system.

Ideally, the Cowboys will be content at quarterback if Cooper Rush or Mike White can earn their confidence over the next two months. But after reported struggles from both during mini-camps and OTAs, there is reason for concern.

This will all be moot, of course, if the Giants decide to keep Alex as a their third quarterback. But there is reason to think he could hit the open market, and if so he may be one of the few decent options that Dallas has to try and improve their QB depth.

In the end, Alex Tanney may not be a better option than Rush or White. But if the Cowboys find themselves desperate by September, he should at least be worth a second look.



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Dallas Cowboys

Saints WR Michael Thomas Will Drive Up Price for Cowboys’ Amari Cooper

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Saints WR Michael Thomas Will Drive Up Price for Amari Cooper

Since he became part of the Dallas Cowboys, Amari Cooper has proved himself worthy of a long-term contract extension. The offense saw a complete turnaround once the former Oakland Raider arrived, picking up way more first downs and moving the ball down the field. With a solid #1 wide receiver, Dak Prescott's game improved and with it, the rest of the offensive performance. At this point, most of Cowboys Nation agrees on how important Amari Cooper is for the Cowboys' future.

At only 25 years old, Cooper has an entire career ahead of him. He's young, yet experienced. The front office is aiming to make Dak Prescott the team's quarterback in the long-term and it only makes sense to give him such a strong weapon in the passing game.

However, if the Cowboys are to keep Cooper, they are to pay a price tag. An expensive one. And the more time they take to sign him, the more they'll have to pay. Of course, this is true in just about every position in the NFL. But when it comes to WR, there's a bit more urgency.

Michael Thomas, Saints

Both Julio Jones and Michael Thomas, two of the best in the game, are seeking long-term extensions. Now granted, these two players may be in different scenarios given their ages (Julio is 30, Michael is 26) and the fact that Jones still has two remaining years on his current contract. Even still, both are in the discussion for being the top receiver in the NFL. In other words, they could be asking to become the highest paid receivers in the league.

In fact, Michael Thomas is reportedly asking for $22M per year. To put it in perspective, Odell Beckham's contract with the Browns, which made him the top paid receiver, averages $18M annually. Thomas is absolutely great, but he's asking for too much money. Whether he'll get it or not remains to be seen.

Amari Cooper

As much as we love Amari Cooper, he isn't in the conversation for being the best wide receiver in the NFL like Thomas is. Despite that, he'll surely land among the highest-paid. For Cooper, it seems like the floor for his deal is Adam Thielen's contract with the Minnesota Vikings, which averages $16.2M per year. He isn't getting paid anything less than that.

The ceiling though, could drastically change. He's not going to become the top paid in the league, but he could be very close. The thing is, that number could change quickly. At the moment, Odell Beckham sits atop the NFL pass-catchers averaging 18 million. We can only guess, but that could lead to Cooper getting paid around $17M per year.

But if Michael Thomas or Julio Jones get their deals done before, that price could drastically go up. If Thomas gets what he wants (and it's a big if), the ceiling for Cooper's annual salary would have become $4M more expensive.

Hopefully, the Dallas Cowboys get a deal done quickly. Amari Cooper is a great player, and in less than a season he clicked with Dak Prescott, who's also waiting for payday. Right now, we can only be glad neither is threatening to hold out and both are excited for training camp.

Tell me what you think about "Saints WR Michael Thomas Will Drive Up Price for Cowboys’ Amari Cooper" 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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Coaches’ “Dislike” of TE Rico Gathers Won’t Keep Him Off Roster

Jess Haynie

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Rico Gathers

Last year, there was talk that the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff had developed a sour taste regarding Tight End Rico Gathers. Whether it was his personality, work ethic or off-field activities, and if those reports are even accurate, it doesn't really matter. History has shown that NFL coaches will tolerate plenty if a player can help them on the field.

Most analysts have Gathers not making the Cowboys' 53-man roster in 2019. It means the end of a three-year development project that started when Dallas used a 2016 6th-round pick to take the former Baylor basketball player, hoping to convert his size and athleticism into a capable tight end.

If these are Rico's last few months with the Cowboys, don't blame his exit on any personal dislike on the part of the coaches. He will be gone for football reasons.

Do we think Jason Garrett was fond of Greg Hardy, who the Cowboys signed amid scandal in 2015? Do we think he always loved the way Dez Bryant handled himself? And what about all the other players who we knew so little about personally, but Garrett and his staff saw on a daily basis?

If Gathers gets cut, it's because Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz are better than he is. It's because Dallas didn't see enough need or value to keep four tight ends this year after Jason Witten's return.

Or maybe they'll see something in another former basketball player, free agent signing Codey McElroy, that Gathers just hasn't developed over these last three years.

Has TE Rico Gathers Developed Enough To Earn A Roster Spot?

Dallas Cowboys TE Rico Gathers

Of course, the reasons why the coaches may be down on Rico could also be why he hasn't developed enough. If they feel he isn't serious enough about the game, that opinion is largely based on his lack of progress.

Look at what the Cowboys have been willing to deal with the last few years regarding Randy Gregory, who has plenty of personal issues but has worked hard when available. Contrast that with David Irving, whose lack of effort is why Dallas chose to let him walk in free agency.

Even before Garrett's tenure as head coach, Dallas has been willing to business with guys like Terrell Owens, Pacman Jones, and Tank Johnson despite known personality issues from previous teams. The Cowboys, like almost any NFL teams, are happy to work with just about anyone who can help them win.

So if we get to final cuts this year and Rico Gathers is released, as expected, don't go down the wrong mental path about why it happened. Don't start blaming Jason Garrett for being unable or unwilling to deal with certain personality types.

It will be about football. It will be because Gathers didn't become good enough of a player.

And after this much time, the blame for that will fall entirely on Rico. He's had more opportunity here than a lot of 6th-round picks get; the Cowboys have clearly been invested in seeing him succeed.

We've all been intrigued at what Rico Gathers could become, especially after some of his big preseason plays. But it appears the experiment is soon to end, and it will certainly be a disappointment.

Just be sure you blame the right person.



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