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.
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.
Malik McDowell Is Well Worth The Risk For The Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly brining defensive lineman Malik McDowell into The Star this week for a visit, as they decide whether or not to potentially sign him for the 2019 season.
McDowell is a former second round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, who fell to day two because of what scouts call "off the field" or "character" concerns. McDowell did not last long with Seahawks, as he was released in 2017 following an ATV accident in which he reportedly suffered "extensive brain and eye trauma" according to Charles Robinson.
None of us know much about who Malik McDowell is as a person, or what concerns their really should be with his health. But what I do know is that on tape at Michigan State, McDowell was a top 5-10 player in the 2017 draft class. He was a stud, and has the traits to continue to be a stud in the NFL.
The 2017 NFL Draft is chock full of talented, athletic, and productive defensive linemen. While most of the draft pundits have focused on EDGE rushers thus far, the defensive tackle class also possesses some of this year's top NFL prospects. Arguably the best of those defensive tackles is Michigan State's Malik McDowell.
Back in 2017 I wrote a full scouting report on McDowell, detailing why he earned such a high grade on my board. McDowell is a versatile linemen who is explosive off the ball, powerful and rangy against the run, and a skilled pass rusher who plays with a high motor. What more could you really ask for?
"McDowell is a patient pass rusher at times, setting up the blocker how he likes and then beating them with ease. McDowell’s ability to swipe hands off helps him greatly, but his quick swim is his most effective pass rush move.
On this play he uses that swim to perfection, forcing the center to power down to the right before swimming back to the other side."
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
When the Spartans went to a three man pass rushing front, McDowell moved to the EDGE often and made plays with his quick, active hands and impressive swim move. He was much more impressive on the interior, however, and could be a direct replacement for David Irving as an explosive and powerful 3-technique for the Cowboys.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
I love that the Cowboys are bringing McDowell in for a free agent visit. His price will likely be low, as he is yet to play in an NFL game over the last two years, but his ceiling remains very high if he is healthy. It's rare for a player with his college production, natural ability, and measurables to completely fail in the NFL.
Maybe all McDowell needs is a second chance to get his head right and prove that he belongs in the league. Maybe he flames out quickly and can't get on the field due to "off the field" stuff. Or, maybe he simply isn't healthy enough to contribute as an NFL player. Regardless, for the price he'll likely command, McDowell is well worth the risk if the Cowboys are willing to take it.
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