2014 is the closest the Cowboys have been to becoming Super Bowl champions once again. That season unfortunately crumbled to pieces in the divisional round when Dallas lost at Lambeau Field in a game full of drama. We moved on to 2015, which was going to be their year but then injuries, especially Tony Romo's, left the Cowboys in a season of defeat.
After that, 2016 was supposed to be it. That was going to be the season in which finally, America's Team would return to glory and hold the Lombardi Trophy up in the sky. With 36-year-old Tony Romo and veterans like Sean Lee, Jason Witten and more nearing their final years in the NFL, the window was closing.
#9's comeback was bound to be epic. Sadly, he never had the chance to prove it.
Romo would take the field for the first time in a long time in Seattle during the third week of the preseason. And less than two minutes into the game, on a second down, Cliff Avril would bring him to the ground and crush every Cowboys fan's heart.
It didn't seem like much at first. Heck, there were even reports that he could've gone back into the field and it wasn't until the next day when the seriousness of his injury was announced. It was one of the most painful moments Cowboys Nation has had to endure in recent history.
Little did we know, that moment would change the Cowboys' path more than we imagined. Dak Prescott stole the starting job, led the team to the #1 seed in the NFC and was named Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Little did we know, that moment put the Dallas Cowboys in limbo.
When clubs are close to making a legit Super Bowl run, the offseason becomes primarily about adding key pieces that are missing in order to get the squad to the next level.
The Dallas Cowboys have had two great seasons in the last few years. One took place under the reigns of veterans Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray in 2014. The other, more recent one, happened when Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott played their NFL rookie seasons in 2016.
The two campaigns share some similar aspects, when you think about it. Both years, Dallas had one of the most dominant rushing attacks in the league. Both seasons, the Cowboys fell short of the much-desired NFC Championship Game and both years featured gut-wrenching defeats against the Green Bay Packers.
But truth be told, 2016 wasn't meant to be played under Dak Prescott.
Let's go back in time, when the Cowboys' beloved quarterback Tony Romo went down in Philadelphia while playing the second week of the 2015 regular season. The season that was meant to be a revenge tour around the NFL after the Cowboys' 2014 campaign, was dead before the second game of the year was even over.
And so, 2015 became a year to forget for Cowboys Nation. Dallas would end up netting only two more wins, landing the 4th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Which brings us to one of the hottest debates in Cowboys Nation to the date. The Ezekiel Elliott pick. When Dallas was on the clock a couple of years ago, the pick was going to come down to two possibilities. Running Back Ezekiel Elliott or Cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
We know who they drafted. Fans will forever argue whether it was the correct call or not, but they usually forget what that pick was all about. The Cowboys weren't Dak Prescott's team yet. It was Tony's team.
Drafting a premium running back like Zeke was meant to replicate the team's offensive success in 2014. Think about it, when DeMarco Murray had his career-best year, we saw Romo's best performance. Taking Zeke with the 4th overall pick would provide an even stronger running game during his final years playing football.
With Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and Jason Witten, the Cowboys were built for a Super Bowl run. Perfect running attack behind the finest offensive line in the league paired with the ever-underrated passer.
2016, with Romo being back and healthy, was supposed to be the year for Dallas.
But it wasn't. Once he was sidelined, Dak Prescott stepped in and never handed the job back. Now, don't get me wrong. When I say the moment in which Romo was injured put the Cowboys in limbo, I don't mean letting Prescott continue as a starter was the wrong decision.
As much as I love Romo as a fan, playing Dak was the right call to make. But we can't deny that they're in a way, stuck between a "win-now mode" and a bit of a rebuilding mode. Not that the Cowboys are fully rebuilding, but they just let Dez Bryant go in their quest for a "Dak-friendly" offense.
Not to mention the veteran players who may not be playing next year or in two years. How long until Jason Witten and Sean Lee decide to hang up their cleats?
Heading into 2018, the Dallas Cowboys will try to "win now", but they do have a lot young talent in different positions and could become a powerful team for some years. However, this could be the season in which they climb out of the limbo. The coaching staff's jobs probably depend on it. Even Dak will have something to prove in his third season in the pros.
There's a lot at stake for this Cowboys team in 2018. Hopefully, this time around, it ends up actually being their year.
Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración
Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.
Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.
Cambios de Coach
A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.
A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.
Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?
A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.
A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.
En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.
La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.
Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.
Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.
No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.
Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story
Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.
Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.
Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.
Here's why those people are wrong.
Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.
Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).
Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.
There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.
Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.
Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.
Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.
Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.
And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.
Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?
When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.
It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.
Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.
Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.
Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.
The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.
Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating
Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating
As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.
Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
Now, he just has to go out and prove it!
Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?
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