Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan have rightfully been scrutinized for highly questionable play calling and game management as, among other things, the late game collapses and abandonment of the run may have cost the Dallas Cowboys a spot in the playoffs. Even though this is inexcusable they and general manager Jerry Jones have the offense going in the right direction. With the pieces that are currently in place the Dallas Cowboys offense has an opportunity to be the best that it has been since Tony Romo took over as quarterback. While the Cowboys' window of success is being questioned with aging stars clearly on the decline, it is the new young and talented players that are taking over and should make the last years of Tony Romo's career his best.
Dez Bryant was suspended during his final year at Oklahoma State, and with great uncertainty regarding his off field behavior he managed to drop to 24th when the Dallas Cowboys drafted him. Early on in his career he didn't help his reputation as he continued to find himself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. After some time to mature Dez Bryant has proven that the Cowboys absolutely made the right decision in drafting him. He has posted back to back 90+ receptions 1200+ yards and 12+ touchdown seasons. He has become one of the biggest wide out threats in the NFL and, especially this season, has emerged as an emotional leader of the Dallas Cowboys. With his 67 first downs only 3 behind the league leader in Brandon Marshall Dez Bryant is as reliable as he is talented. Dez Bryant's emotional outburst on the sideline will always be criticized by those too proud to admit he's proving his doubters wrong but it is that same passion that makes him one of the most dominant players in the league.
As great as Dez Bryant is, he can not do it all himself, and in the Cowboys offense he does not have to. It's almost a foregone conclusion that Miles Austin will be released for the salary cap benefits but there's another young receiver on the team that has looked like he is more than capable of taking over as the number two to compliment Bryant. Terrance Williams finished the year with 736 yards and 5 touchdowns. While those numbers are not eye popping they are formidable for a rookie wide out and with Miles Austin out of the picture he will have plenty of opportunities to pad his stats. With 12 receptions of 20+ yards maybe the most impressive stat for Williams this season is his 9.9 yards per target. On that pace all he would need is 27 of Miles Austin's 49 targets and Dez Bryant is teamed up with another 1000 yard receiver. Given that the Broncos and the Bears are the only teams to have a a tandem of wide outs to break 1000 yards, the Cowboys receiving core could be in elite territory. Without Miles Austin the only question would be depth. Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris were a nice surprise this year but if Williams or Bryant fall due to injury, neither one of them have proven that they can be a reliable number two.
Fortunately the Cowboys have one of the most reliable security blankets of all time to fall back on if necessary. Jason Witten is aging but after exceeding 800 yards and finding the end zone 8 times the end is not near. Even if the end is near the Cowboys have already found his replacement. While Escobar's under usage this season infuriated many considering his was drafted in the second round, his talent can not be denied. Climaxing with his incredible flip into the end zone against the Eagles, Escobar has assured Cowboys nation that tight end will be a position of strength for years to come.
The best part of the Cowboys receiving core is, that aside from Jason Witten, Dez Bryant at 25 years of age is the oldest of the bunch. At 33 years old the Cowboys have given Romo one of the best receiving cores in the NFL for the remainder of his career. This passing game alone is enough to make the Cowboys an offensive force to be reckoned with, and yet it may not even be the best unit on the offense.
Bill Callahan, whose been raked over the coals for his job as offensive coordinator, has also coached one of the better offensive lines in the NFL. It's easy to see why Dez Bryant is considered the most talented player on the Dallas Cowboys, but Tyron Smith had a breakout year and may not only have passed Bryant as the best player on the Cowboys but is one of the best in the league. Tyron Smith ended his pro bowl season giving up 1.5 sacks along with 4 penalties (3 false starts and 1 holding). These are impressive stats for any position on the offensive line, but considering he is constantly forced to block the opposing teams top pass rusher at the left tackle position he ended up being the Cowboys most impressive player this season. The best part, Tyron Smith is 23 years old and is in a position to be one of the leagues best left tackles for many years to come. Tony Romo now has a flurry of young talented receivers to throw to with a young offensive line to give him all the time he needs to get them the ball.
When Waters went down with a season ending injury, it was uncertain how the Cowboys offensive line would hold up. By season's end the were the 4th best run blocking unit in the NFL with an adjusted yard line of 4.23. Where Tyron Smith dominated in pass protection, first round draft pick Travis Fredrick managed to match his success in the run game. Pro Football Focus had Fredrick as the third runner up as the offensive rookie of the year and they gave him the second best run blocking grade of all centers in the league, making him more than worth the first round draft pick spent on him.
If Tony Romo and the passing game has an off night, DeMarco Murray has shown the team that i he has the ability to take over the game himself. Running behind Fredrick Murray ranked 3rd in the NFL with 5.2 yards per carry behind only Donald Brown and Andre Ellington, who had almost half as many carries as Murray. When Murray knocked 293 pound Damion Square off his feet in the finale against the Eagles he ensured that no one could ever doubt his toughness and strength. Tie that in with 8 carries of 20+ yards, which was 2 less than the league lead, and Murray becomes one of the more dynamic running backs in the league. At 25 years of age the only issue that can be found with Murray is his health, as he continues to play less than 16 games a season. Fortunately, the Cowboys have an insurance policy in Lance Dunbar. Dunbar also fell to injury and only had 30 carries, but his 5.0 yards per carry and explosiveness on the field gives the Cowboys all they could ask for in the back field.
The Cowboys have the talent to dominate passing the game and running the game and the offensive line to give the protection that is needed for both. The Cowboys youth on offense means that this is an offense as a whole that is poised to be one of the best in the league for years to come. Tony Romo has been a part of a lot of great offensive units in his career and the players surrounding him now could prove to be the best he's ever had. The most exciting part of it all is, given their ages, this is an offense that should continue to get better.
Ezekiel Elliott Quietly Having Best Start of His Career
The Dallas Cowboys and All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott were the talk of the summer when negotiations for a long term extension came to an impasse. Slick maneuvering through the media on both ends left everyone on pins and needles. Ultimately, the two parties reached an agreement just days before the season opener on a six-year 90 million dollar extension with 50 million in guarantees. With his financial security now taken care of, it was time for Elliott to get a few practices under his belt before the season kicked off against the New York Giants. Now, after two weeks of action, it's clear Elliott has knocked off the rust and is ready to have another All-Pro season.
Elliott is traditionally a slow starter and this season was no different. The Cowboys dominated the Giants 35-17 mostly due to Dak Prescott's 405 yard 4 touchdown performance that also included a perfect 158.3 passer rating. With him slinging the ball around and producing points at will it was easy for the Cowboys to stick to their plan of limiting Elliott's touches. He finished with 53 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown as he knocked the dust off the tires so to speak.
Week two saw the Cowboys hit the road in another NFC East matchup with the Washington Redskins. Elliott came into the game having rushed for more yards (484) and more touchdowns (6) against the Redskins than any other team he's faced, including two 100 yard performances. This game was a steady dose of Elliott as he methodically racked up yardage. At halftime, he had 48 yards on 11 carries as the Cowboys held a 14-7 lead.
With the score 24-14 late in the fourth quarter, Elliott capped off a 10 play 54-yard drive with a score from two yards out with just over five minutes left. After a Redskins touchdown made it 31-21 the Cowboys got the ball back with just over two minutes left. Elliott broke a 27-yard run that iced the game and put his total at 111 yards on 23 carries as the Cowboys improved to 2-0. Just the kind of performance you want to see from your star runner after a quiet first game.
In 2016, Elliott had 134 yards and 2 touchdowns in his two games. He had 112 yards and no touchdowns the first two weeks of 2017 and 147 yards and 2 touchdowns last season in the first two games. This season he has 164 yards and 2 touchdowns in two games. With all the talk about the historic start of Dak Prescott, and rightfully so, what has gotten lost is that Elliott is currently off to the best start of his career through two games.
After carefully monitoring his snaps the first two games Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore is ready to put a full workload on Elliott going forward.
"This is our third game," Moore told the Dallas Morning News. "I think he's at that point where we're pretty much playing this thing out at this point. It was good those first two weeks just to be aware of it and then also trust Zeke's response and how he feels and all those things and just balancing that stuff out."
With all the restrictions gone Elliott can get back to his normal amount of reps. This Sunday the Cowboys host the Miami Dolphins and a defense that has allowed 102 points and 391 rushing yards in two games. Another opportunity for a big performance for the All-Pro and to continue reminding the world that he's the best at his position.
Cowboys en Español: Mitos y Verdades en Dallas, Adiós Taco Charlton
El ala defensiva producto de la universidad de Michigan, Taco Charlton, fue seleccionado en la primera ronda del NFL Draft 2017 por los Dallas Cowboys para la sorpresa de muchos. Con jugadores como T.J. Watt y Kevin King en la tabla, muchos esperaban que Stephen Jones y compañía tomaran una ruta diferente. Sin embargo, Rod Marinelli logró influir la selección del equipo y Charlton recibió la llamada. Desde ese momento, se convirtió en un jugador altamente debatido entre los aficionados y analistas de Dallas.
El 2019 es la tercera temporada de Charlton en la NFL y tras estar inactivo en las primeras dos semanas, los Cowboys lo dejaron ir. El motivo por el que Taco estuvo inactivo no era su salud, sino el hecho de que los coaches no lo vieron como uno de los mejores linieros defensivos. Se ha especulado por mucho tiempo sobre la relación entre Marinelli y Charlton, después de que algunos comentarios del coach y algunos directivos nos hicieron dudar sobre su ética de trabajo y su compromiso al equipo.
Según reportes de Jane Slater, Charlton solicitó al equipo un trade hace unos meses, cosa que los Cowboys no consiguieron con ningún equipo y por tanto resultó cortando al defensivo antes de la semana 3 de la temporada. Las cosas se "calentaron" después de que Charlton publicó en redes sociales "Free me." Gran parte por su corte es el regreso del defensivo Robert Quinn, quien estuvo suspendido las primeras dos semanas.
El domingo, Charlton enfrentará a su ex-equipo vistiendo los colores de los Miami Dolphins, mientras que Quinn hace lo mismo pero vistiendo el uniforme de los Dallas Cowboys. En Cowboys en Español, le deseamos éxito a Taco Charlton en su nuevo equipo.
Mitos y Verdades
Con dos semanas de acción de los Dallas Cowboys, hemos visto y escuchado todo tipo de conclusiones. Algunas parecen ser una exageración, mientras otras tienen todo el sentido del mundo. Por eso es que hoy nos aventuramos a unas cuantas declaraciones comunes sobre el equipo y determinamos cuales son mitos y cuales son verdades...
- Ezekiel Elliott no ha tenido un impacto importante
Debido a la alta producción del juego aéreo en la ofensiva de Kellen Moore, muchos han pasado por alto el trabajo del corredor Ezekiel Elliott. Anteriormente, hemos visto un equipo de los Cowboys que se enfocaba principalmente en el juego terrestre y ahora no parece ser el caso.
Sin embargo, Elliott ha tenido un impacto importante. De hecho, después de dos juegos cuenta con el mejor inicio de su carrera. Hasta el momento ha acumulado 164 yardas en 36 acarreos. Su mejor marca en los primeros dos juegos de toda su carrera.
- Michael Gallup es cosa seria
Las expectativas eran altas para el receptor de segundo año, Michael Gallup. Se esperaba que su rol incrementara drásticamente después de un 2018 que cerró con una participación importante. En training camp fue dominante y por fin lo pudo demostrar en el emparrillado.
A pesar de que tendrá que recuperarse de lesión, Gallup ha demostrado que la emoción que lo rodea es completamente real.
- El interior de la línea defensiva podría ser un problema
Hasta el momento, una de las mayores decepciones ha sido la selección de segunda ronda de los Cowboys, Trysten Hill. El tackle defensivo de Central Florida ha estado en la lista de inactivos durante las primeras dos semanas.
Antwaun Woods sufrió una lesión contra los Washington Redskins que no parece muy seria. Sin embargo, no hemos visto mucha calidad por parte de los tackles defensivos. Hasta el momento, no hemos visto una dupla de titulares que nos hagan sentir mejor respecto la posición.
- Somos un equipo pasador
Tras dos semanas, parece que este es el caso. Habiendo dicho eso, no estaré convencido de que la ofensiva mantendrá un nivel tan agresivo en el juego aéreo hasta que vea el mismo plan de juego coontra rivales más fuertes. Kellen Moore ha hecho todo bien por ahora, pero tengo muchas ganas de verlo en un escenario con más presión.
¿Volverá en un punto a depender del juego terrestre o seguirán apostando por Dak Prescott y el juego aéreo? Ya veremos.
Veredicto: VERDAD por ahora, por definir...
NFC East Weekly: Giants Change QBs, Eagles Take First Loss
While we always have plenty to talk about when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys, it's never a bad idea to look around our division and see what's happening with the rivals. This is the first is a new weekly feature on Inside The Star where we'll talk about the major happenings in the NFC East, and especially what they mean for the good guys.
Before we get into the headlines, though, here's a quick glace at the current standings for the division after Week 2 of the 2019 season:
- Dallas Cowboys 2-0 (2-0 vs division)
- Philadelphia Eagles 1-1 (1-0 vs division)
- New York Giants 0-2 (0-1 vs division)
- Washington Redskins 0-2 (0-2 vs division)
The Cowboys have started off the season in grand fashion, picking up two division wins against the Giants and Redskins. It's an incredible foundation from which to continue through 2019, and one that they will hopefully build on this week against the tanking Miami Dolphins.
Those division wins could be crucial this year if the Eagles live up to expectations. Despite the loss last week in Atlanta, Philly should still be right there in the end and the NFC East crown may come down that tie-breaking record against division opponents.
If these two weeks have shown us anything, it's that all projections of 2019 being a two-horse race between Dallas and Philadelphia were spot on. New York is as bad as most thought they'd be, and any thoughts of Washington being a plucky underdog are about gone now.
In fact, it only took two weeks for the Giants to throw in the towel and name rookie Daniel Jones their starting quarterback.
End of the Eli Era
Remember this offseason when Giants' General Manager Dave Gettleman said that Eli Manning "had plenty left" going into 2019? Apparently it ran out fast, and it only took two losses for New York to promote Daniel Jones and effectively end Manning's run with the Giants. He had been the full-time starter since 2005.
Assuming that an injury or a total management meltdown don't lead to Eli being renamed as the starter, Jones will get six games under his belt before the rematch with the Cowboys in Week 9. The rookie gets a few soft opponents in Tampa Bay and Washington to start his career, but then it toughens up quickly with Minnesota and New England in Weeks 5 and 6.
Taking my Cowboys glasses off for a second, I actually am rooting for this kid. Daniel Jones was one the most maligned draft picks I've ever seen, basically declared a bust before he even had time to hug the commissioner on stage. On a purely human level, I'd like to see him prove people wrong.
We'll have plenty of time to look at Jones in the weeks and years to come. But before we change topics, I wanted to quickly reflect on the end of the Eli Era.
It was hard as a Dallas fan to watch Manning's success with two Super Bowl wins. Other than physical durability, there was nothing about Eli's game that made you think he was better than our own Tony Romo.
But happenstance is what makes the NFL work so well. It's why Week 1 in the NFL means more than the middle rounds of the NBA Playoffs; unpredictable outcomes make for greatest excitement and intrigue. The best teams and players don't always win, because single-elimination games and even single plays within can change history.
The bottom line is that "ifs" don't make legacies or Hall of Fame resumes. Like Batman said to Rachel Dawes, "it's what I do that defines me." Eli Manning won two championships against the greatest coach & QB combo of the last two decades. He kept his team relevant in the most competitive division in football more years than not.
If he doesn't make it into Canton then I won't think it's a tragedy. But if it does, it's absolutely deserved.
Eagles Lose 1st of 2019
Philadelphia fell behind a little in the race with Dallas by dropping their first game of the season, losing on the road against the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday. A late touchdown by Julio Jones on 4th-down stole the game away from the Eagles.
All losses hurt in the NFL but this one wasn't too damaging. The record against NFC opponents is more relevant to Wild Card races than divisions crowns.
But for two weeks at least, the Cowboys have looked like the better team. They beat the Redskins by a wider margin on Sunday than the Eagles did, and that was even with the game being in Washington.
This week could allow the divide to increase. The Eagles will host the Detroit Lions, who have yet to lose a game this year (they finished Week 1 with a tie) while Dallas gets the league's worst team in Miami.
Also concerning coming out of the loss in Atlanta was that Carson Wentz had to leave the game, albeit briefly, after the NFL's medical spotter called for him to be examined for a concussion. Wentz has since stated that he was fine and the exam was unnecessary.
Even if the concussion exam was overzealous, the fact remains that Wentz was taking some big hits throughout that game. Given his history, one has to wonder if he can make it through the season without some better protection or more efforts to avoid contact.
Until he proves otherwise, Carson is going to be seen as injury prone. It's a fear that Eagles fans keep deep down, in places they don't like to talk about at parties or on Twitter, but it's there.
But if Philly slips up again this week against the Lions, especially with Dallas likely improving to 3-0, then a much more present and potent fear could start to take hold.
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