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The Proprietary Blend

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It's that dreaded time of year where OTA's have passed and Training Camp is less than two weeks away.   If you are reading this post, it is likely in the aftermath of your daily dose of the Dallas Cowboys online columnist, Dallas Morning News online, The Ft. Worth Star Telegram online, ESPN.com, NFL.com, and all the other syndicated online media outlets and Cowboy's related blog's.

You are probably familiar with the cliched Eldorado Owens ala Randy Galloway and his disciples (aka Jennifer Floyd Engel), you are well-acquainted with the orginal apologist Mickey Spagnolia who sit's on the fence from time to time but never crosses it, you have read the redundant "Coachable" reference to Roy Williams (11) via Tim MacMahon ad nauseum,  are very familiar with the word "gutless" per Jean Jacques Taylor, you have digested the homegrown Matt Moseley's input, who is known for painstakingly maintaining his non-biased opinion, even if it means showing preference to every team in the NFCE aside from the Cowboy's, and Clarence Hill who seems to struggle not to adopt the same abject indifference that his colleague's are plagued with in view of their typical article output in regards to the Cowboy's (inhale).  The truth is, in your search for something related to the Cowboy's at this time of year you are only looking for hope....that is, if you are anything like me.  You want someone with even an ounce of credibility and the slightest bit of football understanding to say, "watch out for this 2009 edition of the Cowboy's, because they are dangerous."

Well, hopefully, I will do.

The first thing that make's them dangerous is underestimation.  Normally underestimation in football is ruined by the preseason, when game's don't count.  By the time the regular season start's, most team's that are dangerous will have been identified.  Unfortunately, for the average fan, it's not as easy as looking at the final scores and the win/loss ratio at the end of the 4 games to know what teams to look out for.  No, there is quite a bit more to it; especially considering that the object for the Head Coach is to evaluate talent, not win the game.  Every game played by every team will be examined very closely.  They will be looking at the possible match-ups and mis-matches.  They will be looking at the rookies to see what impact they may have.  They will look at the play's and start putting together a list of the head coaches, or the individual responsible for calling the play's, tendencies.  They will also break down each player's tendencies, such as, foot work, hand placement, stance, route running, pre-snap movement's that may provide insight on what the unit as a whole will be doing, etc.  Each team typically has a group of people assigned to researching opponent's to the extent of knowing what the opposition likes for breakfast before the game (maybe that's overstating a bit, but you get the idea).

But in the Cowboy's case, the circumstances are slightly different.  Usually, a team get's embarrassed through underestimation as a result of one or several of the opposition's player's coming out of no where and playing beyond their normal limitations.  While that may prove to be true with the Cowboy's having several unproven players such as Miles Austin, Anthony Spencer, and Gerald Sensabaugh to name a few, what make's the Cowboy's situation unique is the world know's that the Cowboy's are one of the better collective's of talent in the league, and yet still believe the Cowboy's are doomed to fail.  Why?  Aside from being the anti-sexy pick, the expert's predominantly point to the lack of leadership, chemistry, heart, past success, and other intangible's.

As a fan, I'd rather my team be missing one of the aforementioned invisible monster's then be convinced that it will take another round of Free Agency and the draft for this team to compete.  If all they are missing is a word and all it's applicable meaning, they can get that at any time in the season.  They may even start the season with the word firmly in it's rightful place and shock the world!  As far as leadership is concerned, on all side's of the ball, those who are expected to be leader's is much more clear than last year.  On Offense, Witten and Romo are the clear cut leaders.  On defense, Ware, James, Newman and Hamlin will be running the show.  Last year, in my mind, it wasn't a lack of leader's that was the problem, but the presence of too many leaders that caused issues.  The idea that the Cowboy's lacked heart and chemistry is subjective.  The problem with that analysis is winning typically is  a cure-all for those issues and losing is a catalyst for them.

The other side of the Cowboy's depreciated value is a result of what the Cowboy's interdivisional foes were able to accomplish in Free Agency and the draft.  The Eagle's bolstered their offensive line with the acquisition of Jason Peter's (OT) and Stacy Andrews (G) and improved the overall speed of their secondary with Sean Jones through Free Agency.  The Eagle's draft focused on providing recently resigned Donovan McNabb with several new weapons such as the highly-touted rookie wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, the bruiser running back LeSean McCoy and what many are describing as a draft steal, Tight End Cornelius Ingrum found in the 5th round.

The Giant's were able to significantly improve their defensive depth with Free Agent's Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard, Lee Vickers and Michael Boley.  With the loss of Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer and Derrick Ward to free agency (or legal issues in the case of Plaxico), the Giant's focused on offense in the draft picking up Hakeem Nicks (WR) in the first round, Ramses Barden (WR) in the third, Travis Beckum (TE) also in the 3RD and Andre Brown (RB) in the 4th.  Not to be overlooked, Clint Sintim was picked up in the 2nd round and will likely play a huge role in their various pass rushing schemes.

While the Redskin's didn't make too much noise in Free Agency, quite possibly the most talked about acquisition was Albert Haynesworth (DT), the player who imfamously stomped on Andre Gurode's head while he was on the ground.  They were also able to extend DeAngelo Hall's contract, the inconsistent, yet dynamic CB acquired from the Raider's during last season.  In the draft the Redskins focused on defense, there most significant choice being Brian Orakpo, who will be transitioning to LB for the Redskins.

Meanwhile, the Cowboy's Free Agency and Draft was fairly quiet.  No big names.  No 1st or 2nd round pick.  At face value, it is easy to see why many believe while the above team's improved, the Cowboy's ability to compete slowly deteriorated with the losses of T.O., Chris Canty, Zach Thomas, Roy William's, Kevin Burnett, Tank Johnson, Anthony Henry, and Pacman Jones.   That's one major starter on Offense , 3 primary starter's on defense and 3 situational starters on defense and special teams.  How did the Cowboy's replace these players?  T.O.'s replacement was acquired in the middle of the 08 season:  Roy Williams.  Chris Canty was replaced by Igor Olshansky.  Zach Thomas was replaced by Keith Brookings.  Roy Williams (SS) was replaced by Gerald Sensabaugh.  Kevin Burnett will be replaced by either Bobbie Carpenter, Brandon William's or Stephen Hodge.  Anthony Henry and Pacman Jones will be replaced by last year's rookies Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick.  Tank Johnson will likely be replaced by Junior Siavii.

Chances are, prior to their acquisition, none of these name's truly stood out at first glance, for the exception of Roy Williams (WR).  Nevertheless, were I to list all the player's of team's who have won Super Bowl's throughout the tenure of the game, chances are you would be familiar with fewer names than those who are considered icon's to the sport.  Every team in the history of the game has their legends.  But Superbowl's are not won by the effort's of individuals.  It takes all 53 player's a team is afforded in a given season to reach that supreme goal.  Some may never see the playing field, but in one way or another every player contributes to the end result.  My point?  The Cowboy's may not have replaced big names with big name's, but if these acquisition's can at least be solid at their perspective position, there are plenty of names still on this team that can use that firm base to take off like a rocket.

Examples:  If Anthony Spencer can, at least, provide even a moderate threat in the blitzing game, opposing offenses won't be able to focus all their attention on Demarcus Ware, and without a double-team, Ware will get to the quarterback/ball carrier more often than not.  If Sensabaugh can cover, the Cowboy's will be able to send more player's on blitzes and will have more flexibility in their base defense to cover a slot receiver should one be motioned out in a pre-snap adjustment.  If Igor Olshansky can hold at the point of attack, the LB's will be able to make play's just as effectively as if it were still Canty there.   If Roy William's can, at least, make team's pay for single man coverage, the Cowboy's should be able run all over team's with their diversley talented trio of RB's and the TE's should see open flat's and clear intermediate seam's on a fairly regular basis.  So, again, while the Cowboy's may not have added weapon's of the same caliber our interdivisional foes did, the truth is, the Cowboy's really didn't need anymore.  The only issue of note is the coveted conundrum of putting together a plan that exercises all the Cowboy's weapons in an effective and efficient manner.

When the smoke clear's following Training Camp and Preseason, the Cowboy's will likely be regarded with caution, but ultimately wishful-thinking of the "they're bound to implode eventually" variety will prevail among most of those who choose to voice or write their opinion on the Cowboy's.  What we as fan's must keep in mind is the vast majority of the media and experts were made to look like idiot's last year as their preordained Super Bowl winner failed to even make the Play Offs.  As the cliche goes, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.  Therefore, when  in your search for hope all you find is reluctance and criticism of the Cowboy's upcoming season, what you are seeing is for the most part a reaction to what happened last year.  There is a balance these expert's and mediots must maintain that heavily involves the credibility of their opinion and, in most cases, they are merely playing the odds and clinging desperately to popular opinion.  But, as we all know, popular opinion does not dictate the outcome.

Make no mistake, these Cowboy's, barring significant injuries, are extremely dangerous.  Our defense is much faster at each level from the DL to the Secondary than last year's group.  Our offense is much more balanced and more aware of their strength's coming in to the season (e.g. the Cowboy's now know what they have in last year's rookies, in particular the pleasant suprises Felix, Choice and Martellus Bennett).  Special Teams will undoubtly be much improved with the addition of Special Team's coach DeCamillis, a revamped youth infused pool of rookies and a handful of players who will have to fight tooth and nail to be a part of the final 53.  The table is set.  The player's are hungry.  And the feast can't start soon enough.  Hopefully the buffet will be open until February 2010.



I am 35, married and a father of 2 boys. I have been a Cowboys fan since Jimmy Johnson took over; not because I had anything against Tom Landry, but because it just so happens I was old enough to start following and understanding football right as that new era began. Since then, I haven't missed games if I could help it.

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3 Comments
  • https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece

    Right on bro. Good post. Many good points.

  • bags030404

    Good job Johnathan! Very excited about the upcoming season, it should be a good one!

Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Leverage Defense to Reach .500 Against Falcons

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Leverage Defense to Reach .500 Against Falcons

The Dallas Cowboys are returning home for Thanksgiving with a 5-5 record, needing to earn road wins at Philadelphia and Atlanta in the last two weeks to do so. Sunday's revenge win at the Falcons did not come easy, as the Cowboys conceded their first touchdown in the final two minutes of regulation to tie the game.

Missed opportunities in the red zone and penalties all had a say in the Cowboys needing a walk off Brett Maher field goal to win. Running Back Ezekiel Elliott once again sparked the offense in the second half, as the Cowboys defense assured this game wouldn't be a shootout in the first 30 minutes.

Here are my observations on the Cowboys latest thrilling win, greatly increasing their chances at reclaiming the top spot in the NFC East considering the Redskins home loss to the Texans.

  • A great down-the-line play from rookie Dorance Armstrong on the Falcons' opening possession to set up DeMarcus Lawrence's first sack.

The Cowboys came into this game thin across the defensive line. Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins and Defensive End Dorance Armstrong really took advantage of the opportunity, pushing the pocket against Matt Ryan and freeing up the Cowboys linebackers to be themselves.

Lawrence's sack was the play that got the Cowboys off the field on third down, but Armstrong meeting Ito Smith in the hole for no gain was as big of a play on second down. The Falcons were smart to test the interior of the Cowboys defense and use the power run to set up their vertical passing game, but Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard simply had their guys ready to play.

If Collins and Armstrong can sustain their high-energy level of play with Antwaun Woods and Daniel Ross working their way back into the Cowboys rotation at DT, this defense can reach a new level of play given their speed in the back seven and ability to give opposing offensive lines fits with just four up front.

  • Cole Beasley did more than enough to make up for it, but his drop in the end zone on the Cowboys first scoring drive is one he'll want back for a while.

The Cowboys play calling on their first goal-to-go situation left a lot to be desired, but Beasley was still able to make a scoring play with the ball in his hands at the pylon. Beasley bobbled the ball going to the ground and couldn't come up with it.

On the next play, the Cowboys finally targeted Amari Cooper, although without Ezekiel Elliott on the field. It was the combination of Cooper on the outside and Elliott in the backfield that provided a boost to the Cowboys offense last week at the Eagles, and for whatever reason they went away from it consistently against the Falcons.

Beasley's 19 yard catch and run on the Cowboys final drive set them up to run Elliott and kick the game winning field goal, giving Prescott an easy target on a crossing route. These are the types of inconsistencies the Cowboys will have to happily live with as they review this win and prepare on a short week for the Redskins.

  • Head Coach Jason Garrett should be questioned about how his offense handled the last drive of the first half.

Trailing by three in a game still looking for its first touchdown, the Cowboys came out firing with 29 seconds left in the first half before shutting the drive down themselves. After Elliott advanced the ball to the Cowboys 35 and prompted a timeout, his catch and run for eight yards was the final play of the half.

I have no problem with the Cowboys getting the ball safely into the hands of Elliott, but after gaining positive yards on two receptions it's inexcusable to sit on a timeout without attempting a pass to the end zone.

  • The Cowboys play calling improved in the second half, evident on Dak Prescott's rushing touchdown to give the Cowboys a 12-9 lead.

Again, taking the good with the bad, the Cowboys did go to this zone read look one too many times in the second half. From four yards out against a defense playing without one of their most talented players in Linebacker Deion Jones, Prescott faking to Elliott and keeping himself is as smart and safe a play as Linehan could have called.

Prescott's score was followed by Leighton Vander Esch's second interception in as many weeks, allowing the Cowboys to go right back to hammering the football. It took just two carries for Elliott to cover 31 yards and put the Cowboys ahead 19-9 off the turnover.

His 23-yard touchdown was sprung by Right Guard Zack Martin, who deserves a ton of credit for not only dealing with an injury sustained last week but seemingly finding an even higher level of play since then to motivate his teammates.

Joe Looney filled in well for Travis Frederick once again, and Xavier Su'a-Filo replaced a now-healthy Connor Williams for the second straight game, making Martin's elite level of play much more important.

Martin's lone mistake in this game came at a costly moment though, as a false start penalty backed the Cowboys up before punting it back to the Falcons for the tying score. Although the penalty created a third and 13 that Dallas used to keep the clock running on a dump off to Elliott, their second down play call to go with another zone read was costly as well.

Prescott lost two yards on a play that didn't fool the Falcons in the slightest, creating the original third and eight situation.

  • Chidobe Awuzie was actually in good position on Julio Jones' fourth quarter TD, but as has been the case all season he reacted late and was beat with the ball.

Awuzie ran stride for stride with Jones, doing his best to force the Falcons best receiver towards the sideline. To Jones' credit, he was able to stay true to his route and run under a perfect pass from Matt Ryan.

Awuzie's fate was sealed on the play when he failed to react in time to jump with Jones, who simply elevated over the Cowboys struggling cornerback to give the Falcons new life in this game. Awuzie has been given every opportunity to be the Cowboys starter across from Byron Jones, trusted by Kris Richard to be a valuable part of this defense.

Quarterbacks in need of a completion have been able to pick on Awuzie far too much this season. The Cowboys don't appear to be in any rush to change this, as Cornerback Jourdan Lewis is designated to handling jet sweeps for the Cowboys offense while Anthony Brown remains the starter in the slot.

It was Brown that struggled through all of 2017 before finding his form again this year, perhaps giving Awuzie some hope that he can respond sooner rather than later.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

The early slate of games proved to be a massive one for NFC East implications. The Cowboys escaped Atlanta with a win, and minutes later the Texans put the finishing touches on a win at the Redskins. Much earlier in the afternoon, unbeknownst to the Cowboys fighting for their life at the time, the Redskins also lost Quarterback Alex Smith.

Smith broke his tibia on a hit from J.J. Watt, and will need season ending surgery according to his Head Coach Jay Gruden.

This division has been waiting for a team to seize control of it all season. Realizing this, the Cowboys didn't sulk through their poor start and made the right moves to play into contention - playing as the desperate team that often achieves a lot in this game through their last eight quarters.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Leverage Defense to Reach .500 Against Falcons" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Enjoy Double Win as Redskins Lose

Mauricio Rodriguez

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3 Reasons Why RB Ezekiel Elliott Will Dominate in 2018

The Dallas Cowboys looked great on the road against the Atlanta Falcons. There were very few things to complain about their last showing and now that they're back at .500, the season doesn't seem lost as previously thought. After all, the NFC East has been a mediocre division so far in 2018 and the division title is not that far from the Cowboys' grasp.

In fact, if they win this Thursday on Thanksgiving, the Dallas Cowboys would become the NFC East's division leader. The Washington Redskins were off to a great start on the season but after falling to the Houston Texans on Sunday, they only hold a one game-lead over the Cowboys.

This will be the second time of the year these two teams face each other. Back in week 7, the Cowboys played one of their worse games on the year in Washington. Many times the Cowboys shot themselves on the foot until they failed to get to overtime as Brett Maher's FG attempt bounced off the goalpost.

This time though, things should be different.

The team is on a two-game winning streak on the road against the last two NFC Champions. Of course, neither of these teams are the same than they were in previous years, but Dallas has done a good job these past two weeks. Some staff members might be coaching for their jobs as the team approaches "now or never" territory to contend in 2018. Although play-calling and execution haven't been perfect, at least the offense is showing signs of life.

Both the Cowboys and the Redskins suffered key injuries on Sunday. Towards the end of the game, Cowboys' LT Tyron Smith went down injured and headed to the locker room. With his injury history and a short week on deck, it's tough to imagine Smith will suit up on Thursday.

David Helman on Twitter

Tyron Smith, as only he could say it: "It didn't feel good, but I'll be alright." #cowboyswire

However, the more serious injury came for the Redskins. Quarterback Alex Smith suffered a broken tibia and fibia and will end his season due to surgery. With Colt McCoy playing at QB for Washington, winning the NFC East will become an easier task for the Cowboys.

But they can't take the win for granted. This is a flawed, inconsistent team we're talking about. On a short week, it'll require a lot of effort to beat their hated division rivals.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Enjoy Double Win as Redskins Lose" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Game Notes

DAL 22, ATL 19: Elliott, Maher Carry Cowboys to Season-Saving Win

Jess Haynie

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Ezekiel Elliott

A last-minute field goal by Brett Maher lifted the Dallas Cowboys to a 22-19 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. On the strength of 201 yards of total offense out of Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas improved to 5-5 and arguably saved their 2018 season.

Elliott had 122 yards rushing and 79 receiving today, plus scored one touchdown, to make up well over half of the team's offensive production. Dak Prescott was also solid, throwing for over 200 yards and committing no turnovers.

Dallas and Atlanta traded field goals in the first half, and the Falcons took a 6-3 lead into the locker room. But the Cowboys answered with a tying field goal on their first second-half possession, then scored a touchdown on their next drive.

Maher was 3/3 on his field goals today, which included a 50-yarder. A missed extra point created concern, but the Cowboys kicker delivered in the biggest moments.

Once again, Dallas' defense was impressive and played a major part in the win. The Falcons never got into the endzone until their last possession.

Game Notes

  • Leighton Vander Esch had another interception, securing a tipped ball that lucked its way into his grasp. He also made some big tackles and continued last week's exceptional play.
  • DeMarcus Lawrence was credited with 1.5 sacks, getting him back among the league leaders with 8.0 on the year.
  • Elliott was Dallas' leading receiving today. Next up was Cole Beasley with five catches for 51 yards, and Cole's day could've been better if not for a dropped touchdown pass.
  • Jeff Heath nearly had his second interception of the year, but Falcons WR Julio Jones made an impressive play to hit Heath and break up the catch.
  • Tyron Smith left the game on the final drive with an injury, but Cam Fleming came in and the team didn't suffer for it. We'll have to see what the short Thanksgiving week means for Smith's status against the Redskins.
  • Speaking of Washington, the NFC East leaders fell to 6-4 today at home against the Houston Texans. Even worse for them, QB Alex Smith suffered a nasty ankle injury is almost assuredly out for weeks to come. Colt McCoy will be their starting QB on Thursday against Dallas.
  • If Dallas wins next week, they will pull even with Washington in overall record, division record, and split the head-to-head series. With the Eagles facing a tough road game today in New Orleans, and with Alex Smith going down for Washington, the NFC East may have just become the Cowboys' to control.



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