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The Cowboys Are For Real: What’s Made 2016 Different?

Kevin Brady



Cowboys Headlines -  92

Sunday's scene was all too familiar for Dallas Cowboys fans.

Missing Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Orlando Scandrick, La'el Collins, and Tyron Smith the Cowboys fell into a 14-0 hole almost immediately. The 49ers were dominating, and for the first time this year these young Cowboys were truly being tested on the road.

Sure, they needed to win a close one in Washington just two weeks ago, but this game felt different. The Cowboys were on the brink, about to be blown off the field and embarrassed by a team which we had all penciled in as a win prior to the season.

The 2015 Dallas Cowboys would have folded.

Without a true leader to look to at the quarterback position, the 2015 Cowboys offense would have sputtered. Without a true play-maker in the backfield like Ezekiel Elliott, the 2015 Cowboys would not have been able to run through loaded boxes. Without the new and improved Morris Claiborne, and clear leadership on the defensive side, the 2015 Cowboys defense would have been shredded.

Sunday's game would have been ugly. As fans, we would be left to count down the weeks until Tony Romo returned, hoping that the Cowboys weren't too far behind the Giants or the Eagles so that our savior would have a chance to do some saving.

But the 2016 Dallas Cowboys are different.

Down two scores on the road, rookie quarterback Dak Prescott did not blink. He stood in the pocket, trusted his recievers, and overcame every bit of adversity and poor play he faced in the first quarter.

Dak Prescott showed he is a leader, and the future quarterback of this franchise.

Without two-thirds of the preseason triplets, rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott played his best game yet. Pleading and begging for more carries, Elliott put the offense on his shoulders at times, and carried the load necessary of the number four overall pick.

Cowboys Headlines - The Cowboys Are For Real: What's Made 2016 Different?

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 02: Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys rushes the ball against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Defensively, rookie Anthony Brown and Morris Claiborne made up for the absence of Orlando Scandrick. Five years in Mo has finally reached the potential the Cowboys believed he had when they traded up to draft him, and has he come up big every single week when needed.

As the week progresses we will analyze the film, point out the negative which needs to be corrected, and preview the Cowboys next opponent who may pose the biggest problems of any team they've faced thus far.

But for now, let's enjoy this win. Because as little as one year ago, the Dallas Cowboys would not have won this game.

Not without Romo. Not without Dez. This year, things are different, and the Cowboys are for real.

Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

  • Esmie956#Cowboysbaby (@Esmie661956)

    Very happy to see what is going on here with my CBOYS! It is exciting and heart felt. The feeling one gets when we see the Team we love and believed in pick them selves up and fight like this Is priceless! They are all as a TEAM doing awesome! Thank you CBOYS. We love you all!!!!!

    • Kevin Brady

      They are certainly off to a great start, and considering they went 1-11 without Romo last year, seeing them start off 3-1 is pretty incredible.

  • Jarrad M Blackshear

    This Cowboys team has shown a resiliency that last year’s team did not have. For that reason alone, I love this team.

    • Kevin Brady

      It’s hard not to feel proud watching the Cowboys this year. Thanks for reading, Jarrad.

Player News

Cowboys Sign Free Agent WR Deonte Thompson

Jess Haynie



Deonte Thompson

The Dallas Cowboys added some speed to their receiver corps today by signing free agent Deonte Thompson. He played for both the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills last season.

Thompson, who turned 29 last month, went undrafted in 2012. He had a quiet to start to his career as a reserve and practice squad guy in Baltimore and Chicago, but finally got a chance to shine with seven starts last year for the Bills. He 27 catches for 430 yards and one touchdown in just 11 games.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

The #Cowboys signed WR Deonte Thompson, per agent @davidcanter. He gets 1-year, $2.5M with a $1M signing bonus.

Deonte brings some much-needed speed to the Cowboys offense. He ran a 4.31 40-yard dash as a rookie, and while he's 29 now he still poses more of a vertical threat than the current Dallas receivers.

Given the low salary in this deal, Thompson may not be seen as much than a replacement for Brice Butler near the bottom of Dallas' depth chart. We also have to wait and see what happens with the draft and other moves this offseason to know where he fits into the bigger picture.

For now, though, Cowboys fans can take a little comfort in knowing the front office hasn't completely fallen asleep at the wheel.

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys: How “Position-Flex” Has Handcuffed The 2015 Draft Class

Kevin Brady



Byron Jones

Over the last few years the Dallas Cowboys have placed a high level of importance on "position flex." They've drafted Swiss-Army knife players which could be moved around to different positions on the field.

By drafting players like Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods last year, as well as Byron Jones in 2015, the Cowboys have tried to find these versatile players who can be used in multiple ways.

While this seems great on paper, this strategy has handcuffed the majority of their 2015 Draft Class, and is a key reason why the Cowboys seem to be in such a tough spot.

Byron Jones

The Cowboys' first round pick in 2015, Byron Jones, quickly became a favorite of mine during his rookie season. Incredibly athletic, long, and skilled in coverage, Jones was able to be both a fantastic cover cornerback and a solid middle-of-the-field safety due to his range.

Due to both injuries to his teammates, and Jones' own versatility, the Cowboys coaching staff couldn't keep Jones in just one spot. Once they discovered how great he was in man coverage against tight ends, they became enamored with trying to play him in the box.

Once in the box, Jones' struggles as a run defender were highlighted, and both the organization and the fans soured on him quickly.

Now it is rumored that Byron Jones will be moving back to cornerback full time. And while I do hope this is the case, the fact that he is in year four, and the Cowboys haven't been able to find their first round pick a permanent home is a huge indictment on their ability to evaluate and develop talent.

Chaz Green

Okay, hear me out.

The former third round pick of the 2015 Draft was brought in to be the swing tackle for the Cowboys his rookie year. Mainly due to injuries, Green did not see the field for much of his first two seasons. When he did fill in for Tyron Smith at left tackle in 2016, however, Green was very effective.

Of course, Chaz Green's last appearance with the Cowboys was ugly, giving up a plethora of sacks against the Atlanta Falcons. But Dallas might've made their own bed with Green during the beginning of the 2017 season, when they attempted to move him to left guard full time.

Instead of getting the increased work at tackle, and continuing to work as the swing tackle for the team in case of injury, Dallas started Green at left guard early on in the year. He struggled trying to move positions, and looked even worse when trying to move back to tackle.

Once again, the position flex bit the Cowboys right in the backside.

La'el Collins

It's 2018 and we are still talking about what position to play La'el Collins on the offensive line. And that is solely on the coaching staff and front office, not Collins.

Collins was brought in as an undrafted free agent in 2015, but was widely regarded as a first round pick heading into that draft. Though he started at left tackle at LSU, Dallas shifted Collins inside to left guard in 2015. After taking over for Ronald Leary as the starter, Collins produced highlight blocks week after week.

Injuries shortened his 2016 campaign, but heading into 2017 the Cowboys decided to shift him back out to right tackle. Despite some early struggles, Collins progressed nicely throughout the year and became a solid starting right tackle. Plus, he has the upside to become one of the top right tackles in the league.

Instead, it is now being rumored the Cowboys might move him back to guard for 2018. And with that news, I continue to pull my hair out over the position-flex decisions this coaching staff and front office like to make.

If the Cowboys want to get the most out of each draft class, and effectively develop their talent, they need to let those players actually develop, rather than move them around each season. Hopefully they now understand this, and allow both Byron Jones and La'el Collins to reach their full potential.

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Player News

Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal

Sean Martin



Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal

At long last, the Dallas Cowboys have their first free agent addition of this offseason. Having lost starters Jonathan Cooper and Anthony Hitchens at left guard and linebacker respectively, the team has added depth at LB with Joe Thomas signing a two-year deal.

The 2018 season will actually mark Joe Thomas' second stint with the Dallas Cowboys, as he was signed to their practice squad in 2015. The team that signed Thomas out of South Carolina State following the 2014 draft, the Green Bay Packers, added Thomas back to their active roster for the 2015 season.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Source: Cowboys have agreed to a 2-year deal with free agent LB Joe Thomas. He visited the Cowboys today. Thomas has played in 42 games over the last three seasons with the Packers. He had a career-high 70 tackles in 2016.

Thomas has spent the last three seasons starting eight games for the Packers, recording 70 tackles and an interception in 2016.

A contingency plan of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith carrying the Cowboys for 16 games at LB requires adequate depth, which is exactly what the Cowboys are typically in the market for come free agency. Waiting longer than usual to make their first splash, the Cowboys absolutely need an addition like Thomas to perform better than last year's FA class.

Used in sub packages by the Packers while also playing special teams - where the Cowboys have lost core players in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber - Thomas will have a great chance to impress two new Dallas coaches in Ben Bloom and Keith O'Quinn.

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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