The Dallas Cowboys are currently taking their fans on their best ride in many years. At 13-3 and atop the NFC entering the playoffs, dreams of Super Bowls and Dynasties are dancing through the heads of all of Cowboys nation.
But as good as Dallas has been this year, they are in no way a shoo-in to represent the NFC in Houston this February. This team still has many flaws, some which have been masked by some of the most talented players in all of football to this point, but flaws nonetheless.
The biggest problem with the Cowboys going into these playoffs isn't what you think it is, however. No, it is not their defense which has overachieved their preseason expectations, or their defensive line filled with "nobodies" who struggled to get after the passer at times this season.
What may hold the Cowboys back most is their inability to beat top pass defenses.
Some of the staff at SB Nation put together a list of each playoff team's fatal flaw earlier this week, and their points about the Cowboys couldn't be more accurate. Despite being fifth in the NFL in both points scored and total offense per game, the Cowboys struggled mightily when facing top competition.
Two of their three loses came at the hands of the New York Giants, a pass defense which ranks 10th in passing yards allowed per game and in the top ten of opponent passer rating. Dak Prescott looked lost at times at the Meadowlands this season, completing just 17 of his 37 passes for only 165 yards.
Dallas scored 24 or more points in every meaningful game but three this year. Those three games were: the two against the Giants, and one against the Minnesota Vikings, who also rank in the top ten in terms of opponent passer rating.
Sure, the prolific Cowboys rushing attack should be able to soften up any pass defense, or possibly even render it meaningless. But when a team possess a balanced defense, who can cover the Dallas receivers in one-on-one situations, the Cowboys tend to struggle a lot. Then again, so does every other team, hence the high rankings of these defenses.
There is good news, however.
Despite this "flaw" the Cowboys still managed to win 13 games and secure a first round bye, so that's obviously good.
But the even better news is that unless they match up with the Giants for a third time (which is possible) the odds are they won't have to play an elite pass defense during the entirety of the NFC playoffs.
The Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, and Detroit Lions each have average-to-below-average defensive units against the pass, and two of these teams have already been shredded by Dak this season. The Seattle Seahawks have a lot of good names defensively, but without Earl Thomas they have barely been able to stop anybody consistently. Plus, I believe the Cowboys could run the ball very effectively against Seattle.
The point of all this is to say, the Cowboys do have some serious flaws in their game. They might have won 13 games this year, and the playoffs might go through Dallas, but that does not mean they are a perfect team whatsoever.
But neither is anyone else.
The league is filled with imperfect teams, and there really is no juggernaut in the NFL this year. To be honest, the closest thing the NFC has to a juggernaut is the Dallas Cowboys.
Cowboys en Español: La Afortunada Llegada de Randall Cobb
Tras la partida del veterano Cole Beasley, los Dallas Cowboys tenían un hueco preocupante en la posición de receptor abierto. Incluso después de obtener a Amari Cooper la temporada pasada y el tener a un jugador joven y talentoso en Michael Gallup, el equipo tenía que hacer algo para reemplazar a Beasley como el receptor de slot en la ofensiva. Beasley fue increíble en su trabajo durante su carrera en Dallas, pero la administración nunca estuvo cerca de igualar las ofertas que recibió de los Buffalo Bills. Afortunadamente, ya encontraron el hombre para el trabajo.
A pesar de estar muy callados en la primera semana de agencia libre, los Cowboys empiezan a verse involucrados con varios jugadores disponibles. Su contratación más importante hasta el momento es sin duda la del ex WR de los Green Bay Packers, Randall Cobb.
Hace unos años, Cobb atrapó el balón que terminó el partido de playoffs entre los Packers y los Cowboys minutos después de que la recepción de Dez Bryant fuera revocada. En 2019, vestirá la estrella.
Si bien es difícil argumentar que en este momento Cobb es mejor jugador que Cole Beasley, el contrato que la administración le dio al nuevo integrante del equipo es muy razonable. El ex-Packer jugará bajo un contrato por un año y cinco millones de dólares. Lo que preocupa a muchos sobre Cobb es su salud, ya que en 2018 sólo jugó nueve partidos. Sin embargo, su carrera no ha estado plagada de lesiones como muchos lo asumen.
Cobb será un titular en esta ofensiva que utilizará su habilidad para ganar en rutas rápidas. Sus manos son muy confiables y le dará a Dak Prescott otra arma en el juego aéreo. Simple y sencillamente una muy buena contratación de los Dallas Cowboys.
¿Robert Quinn, Por Favor?
Esta semana se reportó que el defensive end Robert Quinn estaba de visita en The Star, las instalaciones de los Dallas Cowboys. El DE no es un agente libre, siendo que aún está bajo contrato con los Miami Dolphins. Sin embargo, ambos equipos están en discusiones para llevar a cabo un trade por el caza cabezas de 28 años.
Después de que Randy Gregory volviera a recibir una suspensión, DE apareció entra las necesidades más urgentes del equipo y si no logran atender dicha necesidad previo al NFL Draft, tendrán que utilizar uno de sus primeros picks para conseguir un jugador que juegue opuesto a DeMarcus Lawrence.
Quinn, quien había jugado la mayoría de su carrera con los Rams, aún es joven y productivo. En las últimas dos temporadas ha logrado conseguir 15 sacks. De conseguirlo, los Cowboys tendrían que trabajar en una extensión para él.
Con un año en su contrato actual, no debe de ser muy caro conseguir un trade por él. Me atrevería a decir que la compensación que los Dolphins buscan por Quinn debe de estar en el rango de una selección cuarta y quinta ronda.
Parece un movimiento probable, pero no es difícil imaginar a otro equipo estando interesado en el jugador. Por lo pronto, sabemos que Quinn disfrutó su tiempo con Rod Marinelli y con el equipo de los Cowboys esta semana. Habrá que esperar para saber su destino.
DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line
The Cowboys got off to a busy start to week two of free agency on Monday, and capped it off by signing defensive lineman Kerry Hyder to a one year deal.
The former Detroit Lion could be classified as a "one year wonder" of sorts, but when you look closer at his career arc, you see that Hyder can provide upside at multiple positions across the Cowboys' defensive front.
After having 8 sacks and 19 quarterback hits as a defensive end in 2016, Hyder missed all of 2017 with an achilles injury. Last season, under new head coach Matt Patricia, Hyder was moved out of position and forced to play as a nose tackle and 5-technique more often.
So, the last time Hyder was healthy and playing in the role in he will likely fill in Dallas, he was productive. Yes that was a couple of seasons ago but it makes Hyder worth the one year deal he received from the Cowboys.
What exactly is that role, though?
I see Hyder primarily as a rotational 3-technique for the Cowboys. At just 270 pounds Hyder isn't going to play over the center often, and won't be very useful as a 1-technique against the run. He's at his best when lining on the outside shade of an offensive lineman, where he can use his get-off and quickness to create pressure.
Kerry Hyder can also fill in at defensive end if needed, especially when the Cowboys go into a nickel package. Hyder is similar to Tyrone Crawford in his ability to move inside and out, but is a bit better of a pass rusher than Crawford when at his best.
Hyder is a high energy, motor, and character defensive lineman who will fit right in with a Rod Marinelli unit. If it all clicks for Hyder and he regains his 2016 form, the Cowboys will have stolen an impressive pass rushing defensive lineman who can win from multiple positions.
If Hyder is actually a "one year wonder" who is more of his 2018-self with the Cowboys despite being put in a better role to succeed, Dallas can move on rather quickly because he is only on a one year deal.
This is a smart signing by the Cowboys front office as they look to re-tool their defensive line, and avoid being pigeon-holed into over-drafting at a certain position this Spring.
New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF
On Tuesday this week it became official the Cowboys would sign former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb to a one year deal worth an estimated $5 million. After his visit Monday morning, speculation around whether and when he would sign was swirling.
Cobb confirmed his intentions to join the Cowboys himself, and did so with some A+ GIF usage on Twitter.
In case you don't know, the GIF Cobb tweeted is Woody from Toy Story, emerging confidently and tipping his cap.
This was Cobb signaling that he his a Cowboy, and he appears excited to be joining America's Team. Cobb also received some social media love from his now former teammates in Green Bay, including wide receiver Davante Adams and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Aaron Rodgers had some parting words for new Cowboys WR Randall Cobb
Clearly Randall Cobb made an impact in Green Bay, both on and off the field. Let's hope he can replicate some of that in Dallas now that he has joined the Cowboys.
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