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The 2016 Dallas Cowboys Were Built On The Number 15

RJ Ochoa

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Dak Prescott, Offensive Line

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The 2016 Dallas Cowboys Were Built On The Number 15

The 2016 Dallas Cowboys Were Built On The Number 15

On Monday Bart Starr, the legendary long-time Green Bay Packers Quarterback who is in the Hall of Fame, celebrated his 83rd birthday. Happy belated to Mr. Starr.

Bart was the first (and second) ever Super Bowl MVP, earning the honor while wearing the white #15 on his green-and-gold jersey. This number has been on my mind a lot as of late, especially with this week’s Cowboys/Packers Divisional Game looming.

Bart Starr, PackersYou see, numbers are kind of my thing. If you follow me on Twitter then you’re aware of my proclivity to tweet fun math equations that show a series of numbers culminating in one that implies some sort of destiny.

So what’s fun about the number 15? Mr. Starr’s birthday is a fun reminder that he’s the greatest person to ever wear it in NFL History, but this number has a lot to do with the present… specifically the Dallas Cowboys.

You see, the Dallas Cowboys are trying to get to the NFC Championship Game. This is territory that has been foreign to America’s Team since 1995. There are a lot of narratives hanging in the air and, if you look closely, you can connect most of them by the number that falls after 14 and precedes 16.

The 2016 Dallas Cowboys – and all of their aspirations – were built on 15, in more ways than one. Here’s all of them.

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2016 Is Literally Built On 2015

Dak PrescottThanks to this handy-dandy little deal called a calendar, we all know that 2016 is the year that comes after 2015… so 2016 is literally built on 2015 as far as time is concerned.

While this sounds silly, it’s true for the Dallas Cowboys as well. When you think about the experience that was the 2015 season, you think about all of the lessons that were learned and gleaned from it. In 2015 the Cowboys learned the steep price of not having a properly equipped back-up quarterback.

Dallas brought back Kellen Moore, but it was the drafting of Dak Prescott that we owe to 2015. An eye was on the future with the 135th pick of the Draft, and the future arrived in Week 3 of the Preseason when Tony Romo went down. Thank you for your lessons, 2015.

Bonus 15 Factoid: The 2015 Dallas Cowboys played the standard 16 regular season games all NFL teams do, but with the final one happening after the New Year they played exactly 15 games that season on the 2015 side of the calendar.

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Dak Prescott And Ezekiel Elliott Both Wore #15 In 2015

While an eye was on the future in the 4th Round of the Draft, all hands were on deck with the 4th Overall Pick. Dallas elected to take Ezekiel Elliott out of The Ohio State University, and he wound up leading the league in rushing. Pretty solid pick, I’d say.

It’s no secret that Dak and Zeke have gravitated towards one another, jolting the future of the Dallas Cowboys and giving Cowboys Nation a great sense of optimism about it. There is a high level of 15 in both Dak and Zeke’s past, though.

RJ Ochoa on Twitter

The horror that was 2015 brought forth two #DallasCowboys that used to wear #15. Amazing coincidence.

In the same way that 2016 was built on 15, this point is built on my previous one. The Cowboys learned how to be better in 2015, and the answer dictated that they acquire the services of both Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott.

2015 gave us two #15s, the greatest ones that we could have ever asked for.

Bonus 15 Factoid: Ezekiel Elliott had 15 rushing touchdowns in the regular season, and the fewest completions Dak Prescott had when playing for an entire game was 15.

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The Difference Of 15 Is The Power Of 4

Back in the early days of May, I wrote here at Inside The Star about The Power of 4 concerning the 2016 Dallas Cowboys Draft Class. That little ‘ol class has done pretty well for themselves, don’t ya think?

The current crop of Cowboys rookies has definitely solved a lot of problems. Beyond the obvious in Dak and Zeke, Anthony Brown has been fantastic, Maliek Collins has shown up a ton, Kavon Frazier has made a play or two, and we haven’t even seen Jaylon Smith yet!

Cowboys Nation on Twitter

After going 12-4 in 2014 how does The 214 fix next year’s 4-12? With 21 & 4.

There are a lot of people who are ready to crown 2016 as the greatest Dallas Cowboys Draft Class of all-time. I’d advise pumping the brakes for a bit as 1964 (Mel Renfro, Bob Hayes, and Roger Staubach) and 1975 (The Dirty Dozen) can’t be caught in just one year, regardless of how great it is.

This rookie class may be about The Power of 4, but as 4 is the difference of 15 it all works for us.

Bonus 15 Factoid: If you add up those three draft classes (1964, 1975, and 2016) by their 12 individual numbers you get 51… which is 15 reversed.

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Sunday, January 15th, 2017

Let’s just say it. This Sunday is going to be epic.

You can make a legitimate case – I’m not going to, but you can – that this Sunday’s contest against the Green Bay Packers is the most important football game played by the Dallas Cowboys in 21 years.

It was January of 2015 when the Cowboys saw their 2014 season end at the iconic Lambeau Field on a blown call… this makes Sunday bigger than a normal playoff game. There’s an air of “not this time” hovering around this particular Divisional Playoff Game.

Ezekiel ElliottBeyond all of that narrative there’s the fact that this game occurs on January 15th. Both the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers hold this day highly in regard, as they have both won Super Bowls on it.

The Packers won Super Bowl I on this day – Bart Starr was obviously there – and the Dallas Cowboys won Super Bowl XII. While 12 obviously isn’t 15, there is something neat to the notion that the Cowboys won Super Bowl XII with a stud rookie running back… just like they have now.

Bonus 15 Factoid: Sunday will mark 735 days since Dez Bryant‘s heroic catch in Green Bay during the 2014 Divisional Round of the Playoffs. 7 + 3 + 5 = 15.

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This Season Ends In Super Bowl LI, Which Is 15 Flipped, Where We Will Finish This Fight

As a student of NFL History I’m partial to referring to Super Bowls by their Roman Numerals, which is why I supremely hated Super Bowl 50.

Thankfully the NFL is back on track and we are approaching Super Bowl LI, aka 51 for the non-fans of Roman Numerals. It’s obvious that 51 is the reverse image of 15, which suggests that things are destiny for our Cowboys.

Jason GarrettThe truth of the matter is that all of these are just a long line of fun coincidences. The real meat and potatoes of what the Dallas Cowboys are built on isn’t the number 15… they’re built on the guidance, vision, and discipline of Head Coach Jason Garrett.

Coach Garrett has preached a mantra to his team as they gear up for what is God-willing the ride of their lives – #FinishThisFight.

Is it a coincidence that “FinishThisFight” is 15 characters? Who knows. What I do know is that if anyone can do it, it’s this team. Let’s finish this fight. Huzzah.

Bonus 15 Factoid: Super Bowl LI will mark the 15th Super Bowl to occur in the month of February.

Tell us what you think about “The 2016 Dallas Cowboys Were Built On The Number 15” in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!

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I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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Will Terrance Williams be Back with Cowboys in 2018?

Brian Martin

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Will Terrance Williams be Back with Cowboys in 2018?

Each offseason tough decisions have to be made by teams around the NFL, and the Dallas Cowboys are no exception. Teams have to decide who to promote, who to demote, and who to cut ties with altogether. For the Cowboys, Terrance Williams fits into one of those three categories, but which one?

It was plainly obvious that the Dallas Cowboys wide receivers all had an extremely disappointing 2017 season.

Everybody has their own opinion as to why this happened, but one thing is for sure, the Cowboys coaching staff will definitely look at ways to get more out of their receiving core. The one player who I think could be affected most by whatever decision the coaching staff ends up making is Terrance Williams.

Williams didn’t do much to make a case for keeping his starting job in 2017, let alone sticking on the roster.

To say he had a disappointing season would be an understatement.

Williams finished the 2017 season with just 53 receptions for 568 receiving yards and absolutely zero touchdowns. The Cowboys were likely hoping for more production from someone they just signed to a four-year, $17-million contract extension back in March [2017].

Now, you can make the argument Williams took a team discount in order to stay in Dallas, but that doesn’t carry much weight when your production leaves so much to be desired. This is especially true when there might be somebody on the roster who can do just as well, and possibly be an upgrade.

Noah Brown

Dallas Cowboys WR Noah Brown (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Yes, if you haven’t guessed it yet, I’m talking about Noah Brown.

I know I’m not alone here, but I think Noah Brown could easily replace Terrance Williams’ production. I understand that there’s not much evidence to back up that statement based on Brown’s rookie season, but he has all the tools required to succeed.

This is really all about potential, and Noah Brown simply has more upside than Terrance Williams.

We all know what Terrance Williams is as a receiver, and what he brings to the table for the Cowboys offense. I believe Noah Brown can do all the things Williams does and has the potential to be even better.

I already think Noah Brown is a better blocker, something the Cowboys coaching staff really values about Williams. I also think Brown is a better pass catcher. He is a natural hands catcher and has a large catching radius, something Williams obviously isn’t (body catcher).

Right now, Williams is only better than Noah Brown in a few areas. He is slightly faster, he’s more advanced as a route runner, and has more experience. That’s about it.

This will obviously be a tough decision for the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff to make. But, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if we see Terrance Williams playing somewhere else when the 2018 season kicks off.

Do you think Terrance Williams will be with the Cowboys in 2018?

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Are the Dallas Cowboys Building a Championship Defense?

Sean Martin

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Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 3

Three of the four teams remaining in the NFL playoffs — a win away from the Super Bowl — ranked within the top four defensively in yards per game allowed this season. The other is the defending-champion New England Patriots, who of course were expected to reach yet another AFC Championship game, thanks to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

Somewhere between this field, losing their 2017 hopes at a deep playoff run to injuries, suspensions, and just poor execution at times, are the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys ranked eighth in yards allowed per game at 318.1 this season.

On the surface, all this provides hope that typically springs eternal around the league through the offseason.

It has been far too long since the Cowboys defense matched the skill level of the team’s offense, but Rod Marinelli’s unit (not exactly by design) outplayed that of Scott Linehan’s at times through this 9-7 campaign.

This defensive rebuild in Dallas began with the admission that this group had reached their ceiling in the offseason, as the Cowboys let long-time starters like CB Morris Claiborne, CB Brandon Carr, S Barry Church (now with the Jaguars), and S J.J. Wilcox go in free agency.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense?

Dallas Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis, CB Chidobe Awuzie, S Xavier Woods (AP Photo / Ron Jenkins)

For a team with Super Bowl aspirations, looking to turn over an entire secondary in a division featuring Carson Wentz, Eli Manning, and Kirk Cousins as quickly as the Cowboys did was a risky move. Their confidence in hitting on draft picks paid off though.

The Cowboys’ bright future is predicated on the likes of CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB Jourdan Lewis, and S Xavier Woods.

With two young starters at cornerback, the sky truly is the limit the this Cowboys defense. And they’ll play in support of an offense with more than enough talent to return to form in 2018.

As it stands now under Rod Marinelli, the Cowboys defense is built to keep everything in front of them, and get bodies to the football. This coverage-friendly approach could be taken to new heights with Lewis and Awuzie on the outside, along with Anthony Brown finding a home in the slot. All three cornerbacks have excelled at using their speed, length, and technique to get their hands on passes.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 1

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence

Of course, games are won in the trenches, where the idea of the Cowboys defensive line ever rising to the level of their offensive line was laughable until recently. Whether it’s with the franchise tag or a long-term extension, sack-artist DeMarcus Lawrence looks to be an all-important member of this entire team moving forward.

A healthy Lawrence was a nightmare for opposing right tackles in 2017. He earned a national spotlight each week on his way to the quarterback 14-and-a-half times. Making it look easy at times, Lawrence is a refined rusher with the speed and power to win inside and out.

The RDE position remains a sore spot in need of talent as this Cowboys defense looks to take the next step, but there’s hope for the likes of Randy Gregory, Charles Tapper, and Taco Charlton to get the job done, along with veteran starter Tyrone Crawford.

With Crawford at RDE for much of 2017, running the ball against the Cowboys front was a tall order. His ability to capture the corner against left tackles came as a pleasant surprise to many, and once in position, the defensive captain chased down plenty of plays.

Tyrone Crawford wasn’t the only pleasant surprise on the Dallas Cowboys defensive line this season.

Rookie Taco Charlton looked like an entirely different player to close a first year in Dallas that began with completely uninspiring results. Charlton — having the physical traits to play at the next level — was never a question out of Michigan.

He may never be a player to take over games for a defense, which the Cowboys couldn’t have expected to find at DE selecting 28th overall, but an improved player at DE and DT could be an incredibly valuable asset for the Cowboys in 2018 and beyond.

This leaves the Cowboys linebacker corps, where we find the best example of young potential on the entire defense. Amazingly playing in all 16 games, LB Jaylon Smith is in line to take a massive step forward in year two.

Smith closed his season looking enticingly close to the player he was at Notre Dame, an encouraging sign as the Cowboys look to become less dependent on Sean Lee on this side of the ball.

Lee and Smith paired together would give the Cowboys a middle-of-the-field presence to rival the best in the league. Both players have exceptional range and awareness to run down plays from sideline to sideline.

Anthony Hitchens, an impending free agent, is another valuable piece at LB with his ready ability to play all three positions at a relatively high level.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 2

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee

Stefon Diggs racing to the end zone with no time left to send the Vikings to the NFC Championship game will be the lasting image of this past Divisional Round weekend, an offensive play that will live on forever.

A closer look at these games and the teams that survived them reveals a collective trust in defenses, a trust the Cowboys could be blissfully close to with their own young defense.

The Cowboys are likely losing one of the smarter minds behind their defense in recent years, with Matt Eberflus ticketed for Josh McDaniel’s staff, and are still in need of a secondary coach after not retaining Joe Baker. In a league where better talent typically prevails though, the possibility of the Cowboys building a championship defense for next season and beyond may not be far off.

With defenses in Jacksonville and Philadelphia providing the hope that both teams can pull off the impossible and reach the Super Bowl on Sunday, will defensive potential be enough for Dallas to get through this long offseason and start the even longer path back to their first NFC Championship game in 21 seasons?

Tell us what you think about “Are the Dallas Cowboys Building a Championship Defense?” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Can Rico Gathers Make Cowboys Offense More “Dak-Friendly”?

Brian Martin

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Rico Gathers, Rams

The Dallas Cowboys unfortunately face all kinds of questions heading into the 2018 offseason. Right now, there are no answers to those questions, which means we’ll just have to sit back and take a wait-and-see approach. But, one question that absolutely has to be answered is how to make the Cowboys offense more Dak Prescott friendly.

Offensively, the Dallas Cowboys had an extremely disappointing year in 2017. Suspensions and injuries are the main culprits for the disappointment, but the Dallas Cowboys haven’t really changed things much in the scheme or personnel to help Dak Prescott succeed.

The sad truth is, the Dallas Cowboys are still operating as if Tony Romo is the starting quarterback. It’s pretty much the same personnel and scheme, but it really doesn’t suit Prescott.

It’s time for that to change. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that will happen overnight.

The Cowboys spent years putting together the personnel to help Romo. Just when they thought they had the missing piece — by drafting Ezekiel Elliott, Romo sustained a back injury, pretty much ending his career.

Anyway you look at it, the offensive personnel needs to improve in order to make this team more “Dak-friendly”.

Enter Tight End Rico Gathers.

Rico Gathers

Dallas Cowboys TE Rico Gathers

The Dallas Cowboys have invested two years in Rico Gathers’ development, but with the exception of a few flashes in preseason, they haven’t benefited from the fruits of their labor. The 2018 season should be Gathers’ coming-out party.

We all witnessed what the Cowboys offense looks like when they are forced to rely on the passing game. Dak Prescott struggled to find any kind of consistency throwing the ball — with the options he had at his disposal in 2017 — while Ezekiel Elliott served a six-game suspension.

Defenses decided to take Prescott’s favorite target out of the equation by bracketing Cole Beasley in coverage. Then, they also devoted extra attention Dez Bryant‘s way, making it difficult to get him the ball.

The only other option left really was Jason Witten on simple check downs.

And that is what the future Hall of Famer has been reduced to.

Jason Witten is no longer the threat he once was. Yes, he is still a reliable target, but his age is starting to catch up to him, which has unfortunately robbed him of some of his athleticism. We will no longer see Witten stretch the field down the seam, or run many routes further than 10 yards.

That’s why I think Rico Gathers could be a difference maker in 2018, especially for Dak Prescott.

Prescott needs more than an outlet receiver at the TE position. No offense to Jason Witten, but that’s pretty much what he has become at this point in his career.

Rico Gathers on the other hand is not only different from Witten, but also provides a different skill set than any other TE on the Cowboys roster. He’s a big target with athleticism, who cannot only move the chains, but stretch the field and break tackles in the open field.

Gathers’ sheer size alone creates mismatch problems against smaller defensive backs and linebackers, but his athleticism should allow him to create separation, something which fits into what Prescott needs from his receivers.

There is no reason why the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff can’t find a way to incorporate Rico Gathers’ unique skill set into the offense. They may not truly trust him to be an every down player, but that’s not happening anyway, not with Jason Witten on the roster.

If it was me, I would have a few packages in the playbook specifically designed for Gathers. I not only think this will help him grow as a player, but help the Cowboys offense become more “Dak-friendly”.

Can Rico Gathers make the Cowboys offense more “Dak-friendly”?

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