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Jonathan Larson's Rent teaches us that there are 525,600 minutes in a year. It's petitioned that this can be measured in daylights, sunsets, midnights, or cups of coffee. Perhaps you prefer inches, miles, or yardage... Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett definitely likes yards.
On December 27th, 2015 Garrett's Cowboys started their fourth quarterback of the season (Kellen Moore) in a dreadful 6-16 loss in Buffalo. December 27th, 2016 (today duh) we find ourselves 525,600 minutes removed from that agony and celebrating a 180 degree turn of events.
We all woke up today for a special Tuesday edition of #VictoryPoloMonday, celebrating the Dallas Cowboys and their Monday Night Football win over the Detroit Lions. The game bounced in the direction of the Cowboys quite easily in the second half, as a 21-21 tie ended 42-21 in favor of the good guys. Pretty cool, right?
Jason Garrett knows well about victories inside AT&T Stadium against Detroit, as his only career playoff win is laced with those exact details (2014). He's a long way removed from the squad of two years ago, and while he's got his sights set on much bigger things... it was this recent win against the Lions that served as the nail in the coffin for something special - Coach of the Year.
Jason Garrett's Coach Of The Year Resume
Last Friday I outlined the ridiculousness that has been the 2016 Dallas Cowboys season here at Inside The Star. There have been a number of crazy, and unique, obstacles in front of the Cowboys at different points, and Jason Garrett has steered them through them all. Among the many, there are a few more notable hurdles that needed to be Zeke-leapt over:
- The loss of primary backup Quarterback Kellen Moore.
- The serious injury to starting Quarterback Tony Romo.
- The injury to the best Left Tackle in football, Tyron Smith.
- The loss of second-year Left Guard, La'el Collins.
- The three-game loss of star Wide Receiver, Dez Bryant (and his MRI saga).
- The fluctuating health of Cornerback Orlando Scandrick.
- The development of 4th Round Rookie Quarterback Dak Prescott.
- The handling of the Tony Romo situation once Romo returned from injury.
This list hits you so hard that you could've sworn it was Chris Jones during punt coverage. To merely survive it would be an incredible accomplishment, but Jason Garrett is far more than incredible. Coach Garrett guided the Cowboys through all of this and has them firmly entrenched as the NFC's top seed at 13-2, tying the Dallas Cowboys record for most wins in a season.
What Was So Special About The Lions Game?
Had the Lions won on Monday Night Football - they didn't, what a bunch of scrubs - then they would have clinched a playoff berth... those are some serious stakes (I wish they'd been steaks, though).
While Detroit entered the game with much on the line, the Cowboys entered with literally nothing to play for. Due to the Giants loss in Philadelphia last Thursday, the Cowboys clinched everything they possibly could on December 22nd.
This means that the Dallas Cowboys welcomed a team who was literally playing for everything while they were playing for nothing. How'd that go? Dallas won 42-21. The Cowboys handed the Lions a drubbing despite resting pivotal defensive starters and therefore, despite always wanting to win, adding some more hurdles in the interim for the sake of the long-run.
Think about this seriously. The Dallas Cowboys at lower-than-normal capacity didn't just beat, but utterly dominated a team that gave all that they had. This is remarkable.
The Dak And Zeke Effect
There's no denying how impressive rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have been this season. They've been instrumental to the success that the Cowboys have had, but they've been coached masterfully along the way.
Dallas secured a franchise record-tying 13th win against Detroit, but they also accomplished something that no other Dallas Cowboys team ever has in the process. Jason Garrett's 'Boys now have a rookie quarterback (Dak) with 20 passing touchdowns and a rookie running back (Zeke) with 15 rushing touchdowns.
This is actually so special that not only has no Dallas Cowboys team never done it... no NFL team has ever done it!
This is an insanely difficult thing to do with any two players. It is downright impossible to do with rookies at both positions! Jason Garrett did it. He deserves an honor only two other Dallas Cowboys Head Coaches have received - Coach of the Year. Tom Landry won it in 1966, Jimmy Johnson won it in 1990, and Jason Garrett deserves it in 2016.
Is Kavon Frazier Fighting a Losing Battle With the Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys Safety Kavon Frazier has one year remaining on his rookie contract, but may not see the end of it with the same team who drafted him. In fact, it really looks as if he is already fighting a losing battle in Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys signed Free Agent George Iloka and drafted Donavan Wilson out of Texas A&M in the sixth-round of the 2019 NFL Draft in the hopes of upgrading the safety position. That doesn't bode well for Kavon Frazier, especially after seeing his defensive snaps take hit in 2018.
After the arrival of Defensive Backs Coach and Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard, Frazier saw his playing time on defense go from 21.24% in 2017 to 18.07% in 2018. It's not a huge difference, but it's pretty obvious the Cowboys value his special-teams ability, not his defensive play.
The way I see things, Kavon Frazier is a longshot to make the Cowboys final 53-man roster this year. At best, I have him fifth or sixth on the depth chart right now. Since Dallas typically only carries four safeties on the roster, it's looking as if Frazier could inevitably be the odd man out.
I personally have Xavier Woods, Jeff Heath, and George Iloka ahead of Kavon Frazier right now on the depth chart. That means he's competing with Darian Thompson, who is also playing on a one-year deal, and rookie Donovan Wilson for that fourth and final roster spot at the safety position. Unfortunately for Frazier, it looks as if the odds are against him.
Donovan Wilson has already had to step into Frazier's shoes while he was out in OTA's after having his knee scoped, and has been pretty impressive doing so. He has supposedly picked up the defensive scheme pretty quickly and is becoming a vocal leader on the backend. Being a younger, cheaper option, Wilson has a better chance of sticking around on the final 53-man roster over Frazier.
As you can see, Kavon Frazier is fighting an uphill battle with the Dallas Cowboys. It of course is nothing new for him. He's had to fight his way onto the roster ever since he joined the Cowboys, but this year just seems a little different in my opinion. It just looks as if the odds are more against him this time around.
I have no doubts Frazier will continue to fight with every ounce of his being, but if I'm being completely honest I think he's fighting a losing battle. It's going to be really interesting to see how this roster battle at the safety position plays out in training camp and preseason.
Do you think Kavon Frazier is fighting a losing battle with the Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys: The Case For Regression In 2019
It's been a few years since things around the Dallas Cowboys felt this good prior to a season. Coming off a 10-6 year in which Dallas won both the NFC East and a home playoff game before losing a one possession road game to the future NFC champions, Cowboys Nation is expecting some big things in 2019.
After all, the Cowboys went out and improved their roster in multiple ways this offseason and brought in some new blood on their offensive coaching staff. Spirits are high among Cowboys Nation, and just about everyone is anticipating a two team race for the NFC East.
But some numbers indicate we should be thinking "not so fast."
The details of the 2018 season are not as pretty as the total picture. Rarely are they ever, of course, but these particular details point towards possible regression for the Cowboys in 2019.
Basically, their point differential a year ago spells out impending doom. (That was dramatic, but let's discuss).
The Cowboys were +15 in 2018, and by pythagorean wins expectation, they were about as strong as an 8-8 team (8.53 wins to be exact). This means they won nearly 2 more games (1.47) than would be expected, fourth most in the entire NFL.
This point is furthered when looking at their record in one possession games. Dallas went 8-2 when the game was decided by 7 points or less, winning close games at a rate that is simply not sustainable year to year.
These numbers make the Cowboys a prime candidate for regression in 2019, as they were in 2017.
Back in 2016, the Cowboys outperformed their pythagorean expectation by a whole 2 wins. The following season? Dallas finished the year 9-7. The model also indicated that the 7-9 Eagles performed 2 wins under expectations in 2016, meaning they would get back on track in 2017. As we know, they ended up winning 13 games and the Super Bowl the following season.
Of course, this isn't set-in-stone, and the Cowboys very well could outperform these expectations and avoid regression. This would mainly hinge on their coaching staff and quarterback performing at an elite level, carrying them through close games and winning more games by greater than one possession.
Newly Acquired DE Robert Quinn Brings High Expectations
Winning games in the NFL typically comes down to accomplishing two goals. One, being successful when passing on offense. And, two, stopping the opposing team's passing game.
The Cowboys set out to accomplish that second goal this offseason, re-signing defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, and trading for veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn. Quinn, who tallied 6.5 sacks last season for the Miami Dolphins, is one of the leagues more feared rushers when at his best. The former All Pro has multiple 10+ sack seasons under his belt, including a whopping 19 in 2013.
And, as expected, the Cowboys coaching staff is ecstatic to have such a respected pass rushing specialist on their roster.
“He’s got that first step. He’s an established pass rusher in this league, so he’s going to bring some good stuff for us.” - Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
The Cowboys acquired Robert Quinn for a 2020 6th round pick, which could end up being the steal of the offseason. Quinn has played with some top-notch pass rushers in the past, and each time they have brought out the best in his own game.
Back with the Rams in 2017, when Aaron Donald was on the same defensive line, Quinn got to the quarterback 8.5 times. And, last season, he remained consistent in his sack totals playing alongside Cameron Wake. Now he joins a DeMarcus Lawrence who has 25 sacks over the last 2 seasons.
"I think it was kind of one of those where I get to have fun, pin my ears back and just disrupt the backfield, which is what they want us to do." - Robert Quinn told NFL.com.
Quinn and the always dominant Lawrence will form an impressive defensive end duo on passing downs, with the potential to be one of the best in all of football. Dallas is also hoping to add Randy Gregory into this mix, a piece which could prove vital late in football games if he is able to return from his current indefinite suspension.
Whether or not Gregory finds his way back onto the field, though, this defensive front will be in good hands. The edge combo of Quinn and Lawrence, combined with a plethora of skilled interior rushers such as Maliek Collins, gives the Cowboys a fearsome defensive line which should keep quarterbacks uncomfortable every Sunday.
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