For me, there’s never been any question about whose the leader for this team. I can’t say that for others. That includes a lot of the media and a whole lot of fans. Even during the 6 game winning streak, Tony Romo was given very little credit for the team putting together 6 consecutive victories.
I’ve heard things like, “the run game is keeping him from making mistakes” or “He hasn’t been forced to win a game this year.” Yeah that last quote was by Heath Evans the weekend before the Washington game.
Never mind the Texans game or Seahawks game, what about the Rams game, Heath?
But this isn’t a bash of Heath Evans' piece for the obvious lack of oxygen to his brain preventing common sense statements about the game of football (Although, I could write at least 3,000 words on that).
This is about the hope I have that everyone’s eyes are open to how important Tony Romo is to this team.
Like I mentioned before, I’ve known this since he became the full-time starter back in 2006, and I’m not by myself here; a lot of people realize this.
I’m speaking to those people who continue to doubt or bash #9.
After Romo was hurt against the Redskins, Brandon Weeden came in and did an admirable job while he was in the game. Matter of fact, he scored points on both possessions before he took a seat so Romo could return to the game.
You know what happen after that. Romo wasn’t able to lead the team to victory and the chatter that Weeden should have stayed in the game because he had the “hot hand” began. And honestly, maybe that was the case. Who knows? Maybe the coaches would have relied more on the run game in that last possession in overtime. But that’s hindsight now, and hindsight is 20/20.
So the days following it looked more and more like Romo wasn’t going to be able to play against the Cardinals. But many people - the media included - felt the team could still function well enough to beat Arizona, and then if needed, Romo could sit out the next game against Jacksonville too, sending the Cowboys into their bye week with an impressive 8-1 record.
What Weeden gave many fans and media was a false sense of hope. I mean, in a way I can see why. The run game has been one of the reasons why this team has been successful, and the defense is leaps and bounds better than last season. So I get it, but I knew better than to believe it.
It took about 4 plays on the offensive side of the ball for me to see this team was going to struggle. And if it wasn’t for a defensive touchdown, the offense would have put up three points heading into the Cowboys last possession of the game.
I will say that the team not having two starting offensive lineman didn’t help things. But that wasn’t the big problem. The five o-lineman that did play did well enough for the team to be successful. What hurt them the most was the guy playing behind the center. It wasn’t just the fact that Weeden had a bad day or couldn’t make the same throws as Romo; he had no control over the offense.
The difference between Romo or Weeden playing under center was like night and day, or a playoff team to a team who was headed to top 5 pick in the next draft.
Yes, there’s going to be a difference, because one guy is the starter while the other guy is a backup. Not hard to figure out. But when that backup comes in and it changes everything, you’re going to have problems.
Weeden came in looking like a guy who just walked in off the streets and had only been working with that offense for a week. He most certainly didn’t look like a guy that got a big portion of snaps during training camp - almost all of the snaps during preseason games - or a guy that's been getting any snaps with the first team during the week up to this point in the season.
Like Troy Aikman said, “He should be the most prepared back-up in the entire league.”
But it just didn’t work out that way, and if Weeden continues to play, it will never be that way. Tony Romo is the heartbeat of this team; he’s the conductor of the train, the maestro of the orchestra.
He does things on the field that Weeden just isn’t capable of, and I’m not talking about just the physical play. I’m talking about running the offense; setting you’re o-lineman up in the correct blocking scheme, and letting your wide receivers know what they should do. There was none of that going on during the last game.
So it wasn’t just the throws or bad decision-making for me, it was the know how or lack thereof that stood out more than anything else.
Yes, this team has had much success running the ball this season, which has led to much success so far for this entire team. One could say the offensive line is the main reason behind it, and indeed that has a lot to do with it. But Tony Romo, with his knowledge of the game, his physical ability to make plays out of nothing, and his ability to carve up a defense, is the main reason this team has had success and will have success going forward.
If people want to think it’s the run game and this offensive line that’s the heartbeat of this team, that’s fine, they can do that. But they're dead wrong.
People often say not to judge one performance on future performances, and I’m usually one of those people who say that. But this team has no shot going forward with this 2014 season if they don’t have #9 under center.
For those that have doubted how important Tony Romo is, I hope the last game gave you a glimpse on how it would be going forward without him. And maybe, just maybe some of you can learn to appreciate what we have in Tony Romo.
Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence and CB Byron Jones to Start 2019 Camp on PUP
The Dallas Cowboys will be missing two of their defensive leaders when they open 2019 training camp this Saturday. Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence and Cornerback Byron Jones will both start camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List as they recover from offseason surgeries.
Lawrence, who got a new five-year contract in April, immediately underwent shoulder surgery once his deal was finalized. DeMarcus reportedly was waiting for contract negotiations to be completed before he had the procedure.
Jones had hip surgery in late May. He is playing 2019 on the fifth-year option from his original contract, and is no doubt hoping for his own long-term extension sometime in the near future.
Sources: DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones will open Cowboys camp on PUP and won't practice in California https://t.co/jzWV5FjBO6 via @sportsdaydfw
Neither Lawrence or Jones, who are both coming of Pro Bowl seasons in 2018, are expected to be absent once the regular season starts in September. But either participating in this year's training camp is doubtful, and even preseason appearances are in question right now.
With DeMarcus out at DE, newcomers like Robert Quinn and Kerry Hyder will get plenty of chances to show their stuff. It's also a nice opportunity for Taco Charlton, assuming he's recovered from his own offseason surgery, to get some work against the first-team offensive line.
No Byron at CB will give Jourdan Lewis a nice opportunity to work with the starters as well. He was likely stuck at the 4th spot behind Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown but should now get more time on the field and against the best competition.
Breaking News: Allen Hurns Released
The Dallas Cowboys are releasing Wide Receiver Allen Hurns after just one season with the team according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Cowboys releasing WR Allen Hurns, per source.
Hurns was brought in as a possible replacement for Dez Bryant considering they had a similar skill set, but that never quite worked out. He only managed 20 receptions for 295 yards and 2 touchdowns in 7 starts. He's coming off a horrific leg injury suffered in the Cowboys playoff win against the Seahawks last season.
This saves the Cowboys 5 million in cap space putting them around 24 million overall heading into the 2019 season currently. This now opens up snaps for some of the younger receivers on the Cowboys roster.
Is Ezekiel Elliott the Most Dominant Running Back in the NFL?
There's no player in football that is more hotly debated at the moment than Dallas Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel Elliott. Though much of the debate surrounds his potential contract extension, which would likely make him the highest-paid running back in the NFL, there's also been a lot of debate about his standing as the best running back in the NFL.
On Thursday, Bleacher Report's Kristopher Knox released his list of the most dominant players at each position. It's a fantastic read and not just because he listed Ezekiel Elliott as the most dominant running back in the NFL.
It's certainly easy to see where he's coming from despite the debate that rages across the NFL's fanbases. Ezekiel Elliott's lead the NFL in rushing two of the three season's he's been in the league. Both of those seasons, Elliott only played 15 games, getting the benefit of the Cowboys playoff positioning being solidified prior to week 17. In 2017, he would have probably ran away with the league's rushing title again, which would make him the three-time defending rushing champion heading into 2019.
In that 2017 season when he missed six games and had a game against the Denver Broncos where he only rushed for seven yards on nine carries, Elliott still finished in the top 10 in rushing.
In 2018, he bested Saquon Bakley by 127 yards rushing. Had Elliott played in the week 17 finale last season and rushed for his season average, he would have won the rushing title by more than 200 yards. And he did that in what many considered to be a down season for Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys rushing attack. Pro Football Focus even graded Elliott as the 30th best running back for 2018.
In 2018, Elliott had 2,000 total yards, besting his 2016 number of 1,994 total yards as a rookie. His rushing total was down in 2018 from 2016, but he still had an excellent season.
No disrespect to Todd Gurley, Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, Le'Veon Bell, or Chrisitan McCaffrey, but they don't have the credentials that Ezekiel Elliott brings to the table. Those guys are great running backs in their own right, but Elliott has lead the NFL in rushing in two of the three seasons he's been in the league and would have probably lead the league in 2017 had he not been suspended.
Since 2015, only Le'Veon Bell has averaged more total yards per game than Elliott, but Elliott's close and he's not used as much in the passing game as Bell. Only Todd Gurley has a higher average of rushing touchdowns per game than Elliott.
Elliott's 3.4 receptions per game through the first three seasons of his career is only slightly better than Todd Gurley who ranks sixth among this group of players. The Dallas Cowboys attempted to get Elliott more involved in 2018 but didn't work him downfield enough in his targets for him to be anything more than a dump-off option. In 2019, the Dallas Cowboys should work to get him running more intermediate routes in the passing game because as we saw in the Detroit game last season, Elliott's got really good hands.
Historically, Elliott is off to a great start to his career. His first three years in the NFL compare quite favorably to two Hall of Famers and one of the most dynamic running backs of the early 21st century.
No player with more than 100 career attempts in the NFL has averaged more rushing yards per game than Ezekiel Elliott.
Think about that for a second. Through his first three seasons, he's averaged more rushing yards per game than Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis, Eric Dickerson, Adrian Peterson, Tony Dorsett, Walter Payton, and the list goes on and on.
If you look at what he's done compared to other players during their first three years. Only Eric Dickerson, Earl Campbell, and Edgerrin James averaged more rushing yards per game than Ezekiel Elliott in the first three seasons of their respective careers.
One of the things that people have used to knock Ezekiel Elliott has been the volume of carries that he's received, but there's a reason that the Dallas Cowboys lean on him so heavily. They've created a run-first identity and though at times it has made the offense somewhat inefficient, it's not because the player they're handing to is not a good player, but because every team in the NFL is expecting the Dallas Cowboys to run the football with Ezekiel Elliott.
In 2018 in particular, the Cowboys offensive coaching staff, namely the departed Scott Linehan, didn't do enough to create favorable matchups in the running game. Too often it was a first down run out of heavy personnel that the defense was expecting.
With two rushing titles already in the bag, there's no reason to expect anything different from Ezekiel Elliott in 2019. It's anticipated that the offensive gameplan and execution will be better in 2019 than it was in 2018. The offensive line will be better and with Kellen Moore as the offensive coordinator, there's a thought that the Dallas Cowboys are going to be less predictable moving forward.
The debate will continue to rage over the value of extending Ezekiel Elliott with a contract that will carry him to his age 28 or 29 season, but there is no debating that Ezekiel Elliott is the best and most dominant running back in the NFL.
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