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Time to Place Confidence in the Dallas Cowboys

John Williams



Dak Prescott, Redskins

It's been a season of ups and downs that saw the 2018 Dallas Cowboys start the season by alternating wins and losses through the first six games before dropping to 3-5 after the eight game mark. Now having won three in a row and leading the NFC East, I think we can all rest assured that these Dallas Cowboys.

Over the last three weeks, the Dallas Cowboys have answered questions that hadn't previously been answered.

Prior to the three game winning streak, they hadn't won a game on the road. Well, now they've done that twice.

They hadn't played a really good offense. Well they outscored the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles and the Super Bowl 51 runner-up Atlanta Falcons on the road.

In 2017, the Cowboys weren't able to overcome the injuries and suspensions to their star players Sean Lee, Tyron Smith, David Irving, and Ezekiel Elliott. Well in 2018, they've weathered the storm and played really good without Tyron Smith, David Irving, Sean Lee, and several other key contributors.

The time has come for us to believe in the Dallas Cowboys again.

I know that's difficult to do as the Cowboys have let us down so many times over the last couple of decades, but for the 2018 Cowboys, things are trending in the right direction and they are playing their best football of the year at the most important time of the year.

Even with a formidable game coming this Thursday night against the 10-1 New Orleans Saints, the Dallas Cowboys give us reason to believe that they could actually come away with a win this week to extend the streak to four. Just a few games ago, I don't think anyone would have thought a W was possible this Thursday.

But that's where we are now and for good reason.

Improving Offense

The Dallas Cowboys offense is starting to look dangerous on the ground and through the air.

Over the last three games, Quarterback Dak Prescott has averaged 255.7 yards per game, completed 70.1% of his passes, is averaging 7.75 yards per attempt and 8.35 air yards per attempt. He's thrown three touchdowns and ran for three touchdowns while not turning the ball over; basically two touchdowns per game. Prescott's quarterback rating over the three game winning streak was 100.3. Dak's been sacked 3.3 times per game. That includes being sacked four times in the first half against the Washington Redskins, but not being sacked at all in the second half. All of this occurring while Connor Williams sat out and against the Washington Redskins without Tyron Smith.

Over the first eight games of the season, prior to the three game winning streak,  Prescott averaged 207.5 passing yards per game, threw 10 touchdowns and five interceptions, averaged seven yards per attempt and only 6.90 air yards per attempt. During the 3-5 start, Prescott averaged 1.5 total touchdowns per game. His passer rating was 88.9.

There are several things to factor into to the improved play of the offense, but the two biggest reasons are the two big moves they made over the bye week. First, trading for WR Amari Cooper. Then removing Paul Alexander as offensive line coach and replacing him with Marc Colombo.

It’s hard to quantify just how much of an impact Cooper and Colombo have made on the Cowboys since the bye week, but there’s certainly a difference in both the way they run the ball and throw the ball.

Not only has Dak Prescott seen a midseason resurgence to his play, but Ezekiel Elliott and the running game have as well. Elliott has run for 120 yards or more with a touchdown in three straight games. It's the second time in his career that he's had such a stretch. This while playing against two really good defensive fronts in the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins. The Redskins held Elliott to 33 yards on 15 carries in the week seven loss in Washington.

The Amari Cooper trade has added an element to the offense that's been missing this season. Someone who can create separation with his excellent route running ability, but also has the speed to break away from defenders after the catch. As we all saw on Thursday. You can tell when watching that Prescott has a high level of comfort with Cooper and is willing to throw the ball his way often. In fact, since coming over from the Oakland Raiders prior to the Tennessee Titans game, Cooper has led the Cowboys in targets in three out of the four games he's been with the team. He helps everyone on the offense. In only four games, Cooper's already second on the team in receiving yards and first on the Cowboys in receiving touchdowns.

He gets open, which helps Dak, which in turn helps the offensive line. He requires attention from the secondary, which is going to help the rest of the wide receivers in their routes, as well as Elliott. Like we saw on Thursday, he's a threat to score from anywhere on the field. When a team can get one or two big plays a game like that, it provides a huge boost to the entire football team.

Game-Defining Defense

The offense's improvement over the last three games shouldn't overshadow what the defense has done. They continue to play really good as a unit.

They've held the Philadelphia Eagles, the Atlanta Falcons, and the Washington Redskins to an average of 20.67 points per game. The Atlanta Falcons were held to one touchdown at home, where they had averaged 30+ points on the road coming into the game.

The Dallas Cowboys defense, who has been pretty good at putting pressure on the passer and against the run, is starting to create turnovers.

They've created a turnover in four straight games, and forced Colt McCoy into three interceptions on Thursday. The Cowboys would have had another interception in the Atlanta game if not for Julio Jones ball-separating hit on Jeff Heath.

If the Dallas defense can continue to force turnovers in each game, it's going to make things a lot easier for the offense. The Cowboys are still in the bottom half of the league in turnovers, but are trending in the right direction with seven in the last four weeks. Against, Tennessee, they were unable to capitalize on the turnovers, but that shouldn't be as much of a problem moving forward.

✭  ✭  ✭  ✭  ✭

It's easy to look at the quality of opponent the Cowboys have played over the last three weeks and discount the three game winning streak, but each of those teams is still in the thick of the wild card race. The Cowboys were under pressure in must-win games and came away with big wins.

No matter what happens on Thursday night against the New Orleans Saints, this team is still one to put our confidence in. They're playing really good football now and I don't see that changing for the rest of the 2018 season. Whether they win this week or not, and I think there’s a good chance they do pull off the upset, this team is on a trajectory to win the NFC East. This is a dangerous team and one to believe in.

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.


Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: ¿Qué Safety Estará Ahí en el #58?

Mauricio Rodriguez



Cowboys Draft Target: Washington Safety Taylor Rapp

Por fin estamos a menos de una semana del NFL Draft 2019. El evento que define el futuro de las franquicias de la liga año tras año está a días de distancia y los rumores comienzan a tomar velocidad. Para los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, la experiencia del Draft será un poco diferente ya que no cuentan con una selección de primera ronda. En vez de eso, tienen a Amari Cooper. ¿Lo vale? Sí. Pero, no se puede negar que el equipo estará en una posición complicada durante el Draft.

No sólo no hay un pick de primera ronda para los Cowboys, sino que no cuentan con uno dentro del Top 50. Estas son las selecciones con las que cuentan los Jones y compañía:

  • Pick #58 (segunda ronda)
  • Pick #91 (tercera ronda)
  • Pick #129 (cuarta ronda)
  • Pick #137 (cuarta ronda)
  • Pick #166 (quinta ronda)
  • Pick #243 (séptima ronda)

A menos que sean sorprendentemente agresivos, no habrá noticias sobre los Dallas Cowboys el próximo jueves. Más bien tendremos que esperar hasta el segundo día del Draft para ver que traman los Cowboys. ¿Qué podemos esperar sobre su primera selección?

Why Cowboys War Room Could Be Particularly Interesting This Draft

En este momento, parece que no hay ninguna necesidad más fuerte que la de un safety. Y parece ser que el talento disponible en la segunda ronda podría beneficiar a los Cowboys. Como cada año, es difícil pronosticar quien estará en la tabla y quien no, pero hablemos de varios safeties que podrían solucionar los problemas de Dallas.

S Taylor Rapp, Washington

Algunos ven a Rapp como el mejor safety en la clase de novatos, mientras que otros están convencidos de que no podrá tener éxito en la NFL. La mayor preocupación en torno al producto de Washington es su velocidad. En las pruebas que realizó sus resultados no fueron nada satisfactorios. Sin embargo, ha probado en el campo que es bueno contra la corrida y se puede encargar de su trabajo en cobertura. Es bueno al tacklear, y podría ser justo lo que los Cowboys necesitan.

S Jonathan Abraham, Mississippi State

Abraham se proyecta como un strong safety, que es lo que los Cowboys necesitan. De todos los prospectos, parece que Abraham es el favorito a irse primero. Sin embargo, no es perfecto y sus defectos podrían costarle una caída hasta la segunda ronda. Abraham falla tackleadas ocasionalmente, pero su juego físico y agresivo lo puede compensar. Si cae hasta el #58, Abraham no puede ser ignorado.

Cowboys Draft: Virginia Safety Juan Thornhill V

S Juan Thornhill, Virginia

Thornhill no es mejor que los mencionados anteriormente, pero quizá sea más probable encontrarlo si los Cowboys se quedan en el pick #58. En Virginia, Thornhill tuvo tres temporadas donde fue titular en más de 10 partidos. Es todo un play-maker, consiguiendo 13 intercepciones en su carrera colegial. Lidero a su equipo en tackleadas. Puede jugar en varios puntos de la defensiva e incluso llegó a alinearse como linebacker. Dudo que eso pase en la NFL, pero podría ser un buen safety dentro de la caja y en cobertura.

S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida

Gardner-Johnson fue uno de los líderes en Florida durante toda su carrera. Jugó como safety y como cornerback, muchas veces actuando como "nickel." Chauncey no sería de mis opciones favoritas en este punto del Draft, pero es una que no se puede ignorar si los demás jugadores ya no están disponibles. Sabe romper jugadas y tiene potencial de convertirse en un titular a largo plazo.

S Amani Hooker, Iowa

En el escenario de que todos los mejores safeties ya hayan sido seleccionados y el equipo no prefiera atender otra necesidad, Amani Hooker merece un vistazo. En Iowa ganó el premio al mejor defensive back de su conferencia (Big Ten). Tuvo buenos números en sus pruebas y podría ser un buen strong safety dentro de la caja, donde se pone en posición constantemente para hacer jugadas.

Claro que los Cowboys podrían tomar otra ruta y no seleccionar a un safety hasta más tarde. Sin embargo, considero que sería lo correcto. Incluso pienso que si Taylor Rapp o su prospecto favorito está disponible en un punto de la segunda ronda, Dallas estará dispuesto a hacer un trade para subir y alcanzarlo.

Sólo queda esperar este gran e impredecible evento. ¿Qué esperas del NFL Draft? Hazme saber en los comentarios o por medio de Twitter en @MauNFL.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: ¿Qué Safety Estará Ahí en el #58?" 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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Star Blog

Cowboys Look To Be In For Brutal December Slate In 2019

Kevin Brady



Top Free Agent Defensive End Options for the Dallas Cowboys 1
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

All sixteen regular season games count the same. A win in September means exactly the same as a win in December. Just as a touchdown in the first quarter counts for the same number of points as a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

While factually accurate, we know these statements aren't totally true. Championship teams often "hit their stride" in November and December, as they close out divisions, clinch playoff births, and prove they can stay cool and claim victory when the pressure mounts to its highest peak.

Under Jason Garrett, and Wade Phillips before him, the Cowboys have developed the reputation of not "winning the big one." In particular, they've been labeled as a team that "chokes" in December. Tony Romo dealt with his fair share of December/January demons during his career, but overcame them towards his final seasons. Dak Prescott has yet to advance past the Divisional Round of the postseason himself, but the narrative around the Cowboys has seemed to change.

Now, due to their late season run and victory over the Seattle Seahawks last season, people see Prescott and the Cowboys as a team that can find ways to win. A team, and a quarterback, who may not be as prolific as some of the other top squads in the conference, but one that you can never count out. I'd argue this has been the case with Dallas for quite some time under Garrett, but it is only now the narrative has changed.

Their late season fortitude will be tested again in 2019, however.

The NFL released the official schedule for the 2019 NFL season earlier this week, with the Cowboys getting some favorable (and some not-so-favorable) draws. What jumped off the page immediately to me, however, is how tough their final four games will be. And, of course, how critical victories in those games will be to gaining an NFC playoff spot.

Among those four December games are trips to Chicago and Philadelphia, two playoff teams a year ago who present problems in different ways. The Bears, known for their talented defense and innovative play-caller, and the Eagles, the always tough divisional foe.

Dallas also gets two home games during this stretch, hosting the Los Angeles Rams week 15, and finishing out the year against the Washington Redskins. The Rams, of course, eliminated the Cowboys from the postseason a year ago, and are expected to be one of the conference's best again.

The Cowboys will face a first-place schedule in 2019, and will have to prove that they are playoff-worthy down the stretch in December.

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Star Blog

Dallas Cowboys: 3 Schedule Predictions Ahead Of Wednesday’s Release

Kevin Brady



Cowboys, Bears Proving Defense Can Win the NFC

Wednesday night the official 2019 NFL schedule will be released, and we will know the exact times and dates of each of the Cowboys' upcoming games.

We already know the opponents, however, and we know how the NFL typically likes to schedule games week to week. Based on both prior history and future opponents, here are 3 predictions for tonight's schedule release.

1. Cowboys Open Up With The Giants

I didn't say the predictions would be bold, did I?

The NFL loves to have the Cowboys open up against the New York Giants, and I see that being the case here again. Dallas/New York will always bring about solid ratings, but scheduling this game before the Giants (likely) fall out of contention is a smart move as well.

This game will be in Dallas at 4:25 eastern time, occupying that "America's Game of the Week" slot during the opening weekend. Because as much as everyone says they hate watching these NFC East games, the numbers bear out a different story.

2. Cowboys Play @ Saints Thursday After Thanksgiving

We know the Cowboys will play in an extra Thursday or Saturday night game this season. They always do.

Lately the league has liked to schedule them as the Thursday night game following Thanksgiving, and I don't see them breaking  that trend this season. Dallas has played the Vikings, Redskins, and Saints in this game the last three years, with the Cowboys/Saints game being one of the best of last year's Thursday slate.

Why not run it back at the Superdome this November?

3. Cowboys Close The Season With A Brutal December

This is broad prediction, so let's narrow it down a bit. I think the Cowboys will play three critical NFC games in December, at the very least. These games will include NFC East battles with the Washington Redskins (week 17) and Philadelphia Eagles, as well as a game at Chicago to face the Bears.

It's likely the Cowboys, Bears, and Eagles will be fighting for playoff positioning (or playoff births) down the stretch in December. Plus, anytime a combination of these three teams play, ratings will be drawn. I think they'll have Prescott battle Mitchell Trubisky and Carson Wentz this December, as he and the Cowboys look to clinch a consecutive playoff birth.

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