The Dallas Cowboys 2016 season has been nothing short of incredible. Last night on Thursday Night Football, the Cowboys rolled to their eleventh straight win against the Vikings!
Was it pretty? No. Have we seen Jason Garrett's team play better this season? Of course. Did Cowboys Nation still take to Twitter to celebrate this monumental victory? YOU BET!!
As always, here is my post-victory collection of the best of those tweets.
Silver & Blue Swagger
Is their a better way to celebrate? We think not! @rjochoa @ShoreSportsNJ
Thomas is a great friend of ours here at Inside The Star, a loyal fan that frequently sweats out games with some fellow writers and I on Twitter. As Jason Witten recovered the onside kick that sealed this win though, Thomas and his exceptionally dressed squad all did the "dab".
Well done. The Cowboys are 11-1. I'll never be able to type this enough.
It is now mathematically impossible for the #Eagles to finish with more wins than the #Cowboys this season.
Offense Struggles, Defense Rises to the Occasion
It is important to note once again that this was an ugly win for the Cowboys. Wins like this can be imperative for contending teams though, as this young and resilient squad proved that they can find multiple ways to win - even doing it mostly behind their defense last night!
NICE RUSH @Benny_b0y10 ! That's that SSR- Stab Swat Rip! One of my fav moves I train my taller and longer DEs on. Keep OT away! #MINvsDAL https://t.co/7sBEEUnkql
Against a banged up Vikings' offensive line, Rod Marinelli's defensive line came to life a bit, recording hits on Bradford that caused some key incompletions. Even Benson Mayowa, who found himself on the active roster for the first time in three weeks, got around the edge to drag down Sam.
Since everyone is talking about it, yes T.J. Clemmings was moving before the ball was snapped
In the secondary, Barry Church's return helped this still banged-up unit force some tight window throws, sealing the deal with a stand on this two point conversion - which was backed up five yards after a false start.
Another hyper efficient Dez night. 6 targets. 4 catches for 84 yards and a TD against the league's #1 pass defense.
As far as bright spots for the Cowboys offense, Dez Bryant's eventual game-winning touchdown capped off another efficient night for him. Prescott was able to find him when it mattered, and move the offense without Jason Witten catching a pass for the first time since 2008!
Ezekiel Elliott actually had his third straight game under 100 yards, but like Bryant, he moved the chains with timely plays that continuously wore down an incredibly tough Minnesota defense.
It wasn't the type of offensive performance that has won games this season for the Cowboys, but it was good enough to win...
11 in a row, what's next?
11-1. The Force is with the Cowboys.
The Cowboys can clinch a playoff spot as soon as Sunday, with a Buccaneers loss or tie at the Chargers or a Redskins loss in Arizona to the Cardinals.
As for the next time we'll see the boys in silver and blue on the field, their December 11th Sunday Night Football meeting with the Giants at MetLife Stadium will give them a chance to wrap up the NFC East title with a win.
Just one more win, and the 4-12 Cowboys of 2015 will be long dead and gone. The 2016 Cowboys will be 12-1, with playoff football to look forward to.
That's something to tweet to, as the best fans in the world certainly did enough of that last night. Thank you for reading another victory edition of Tweet Break!
11-1. 11 game winning streak. 4 games left and may have clinched a playoff spot. What Can't these #Cowboys do. #TweetBreak
Click here to catch up on previous editions of #TweetBreak, and remember that you can use that hashtag to have your tweets featured right here each week!
Want to talk about the Cowboys eleventh straight win!? Use the comment section below, or email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com.
You can also find me on Twitter @ShoreSportsNJ for any of your Dallas Cowboys football talk!
Despite Changes, Cowboys Offense Still Runs Through Ezekiel Elliott
We've talked a lot this offseason about the changes at Offensive Coordinator and slot receiver, or how Jason Witten's return will impact the tight end position. But while all of these will impact the Dallas Cowboys' offense in 2019, the constant feature remains Running Back Ezekiel Elliott and the rushing attack.
From 2016 to 2018, since the Cowboys drafted Elliott, Dallas has ranked 1st, 3rd, and 10th among NFL teams in "run vs. pass" play calls. That's only logical; you don't spend a fourth-overall pick on a RB and then not make him the featured player in your offense.
Zeke has certainly rewarded Dallas' decision; Elliott has led the league in total rushing two out of three years, and he led in yards-per-game in 2017 while dealing with his suspension.
Leaning on Elliott has been smart business based on his effectiveness, plus the investment in the offensive line over the last several years.
Dallas has now sunk three first-round picks (Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin), one second (Connor Williams), and now two thirds (Chaz Green and Connor McGovern) on building up their front wall. They've spent a lot of money to keep their All-Pro guys around, plus La'el Collins.
Some would try to paint the run-heavy approach as how the team is trying to hide the weaknesses of Dak Prescott at quarterback. But in 2014, with DeMarco Murray at RB and Tony Romo at QB, the Cowboys were still 3rd in the league in rush vs. pass attempts.
This isn't about Zeke or Dak, or any other specific player. This about a team philosophy that starts at the top with Jason Garrett, and that isn't going to change even with Kellen Moore taking over as the new Offensive Coordinator.
We're all excited to see what new wrinkles comes from getting rid of Scott Linehan. We highly anticipate the development of Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup in the offense, coupled with the addition of Randall Cobb. We're salivating at what Blake Jarwin might become under the tutelage of the great Jason Witten.
Heck, maybe we'll see fullback Jamize Olawale's receiving skills put to more use. Perhaps gadget guys like Tavon Austin or rookie Tony Pollard will be deployed in more creative ways.
And yes, Dak Prescott's growth is another major factor in Dallas' 2019 success. It's especially interesting, and even concerning, as talks are ongoing about his long-term contract.
But make no mistake, this is still the Ezekiel Elliott show. Even if a few more of his carries become receptions in Moore's scheme, Zeke should still get the lion's share of the touches.
That's why this week's news about his incident in Las Vegas is so troubling. It probably won't lead to a suspension, but we saw what happened in 2017 when Elliott was missing for over a third of the season.
While Dallas should be better able to withstand losing Zeke now than it was two years ago, it may still be more than Prescott, Cooper, and the rest could handle. It definitely wouldn't put the Cowboys in good position to compete for a Super Bowl.
In the end, the 2019 will still come down to how well Dallas runs the ball. It's the engine; nothing else matters if the rushing game doesn't set everyone else up for success.
Don't ever take it for granted. This is still Ezekiel Elliott's offense.
What Would a Successful Season Mean for Kellen Moore’s Future?
Out of every chess piece moved by the Dallas Cowboys this offseason, the decision to name 30-year old Kellen Moore might be the most interesting one. Not only that, but it could be the one that makes the biggest impact on the team. After all, the Cowboys are ready to go talent wise.
With Kellen Moore taking up a new role, it's intriguing to imagine what a successful season would mean for his future with the Dallas Cowboys. Truth be told, Moore is in a pretty fortunate position to debut as an offensive coordinator. He'll be driving a unit full of talented players with almost no weak links. Last year, it wasn't the lack of quality players lined up that had the offense struggling throughout the season, but the guy in charge.
At first, the philosophy of not needing a #1 wide receiver clearly blew up on the Cowboys face. The passing game in Dallas needed a spark and they didn't find it until they traded a first rounder for Amari Cooper. Cooper's impact on the team was clear right away as he put on impressive performances on a weekly basis.
But even when Cooper was at his best, the offense still presented relevant struggles. Despite getting more first downs, the Cowboys still had trouble scoring touchdowns when in the red zone and kept leaving points on the field.
Although he's been a controversial conversation among members of Cowboys Nation, there are a few reasons to be excited about what Kellen Moore can bring to the table as a young offensive coordinator. Ever since he declared for the NFL Draft out of Boise State, where he ran a very complex offense on his way to become the QB with most wins in NCAA history, he was seen by many as an extremely smart prospect. Many expected him to have a mediocre career as a player, but saw him as a potential coach down the line.
Now it's his chance to prove the world just how smart he is and his potential as a coach. He will not only be proving it to the Cowboys organization, but all of the NFL and college football teams. Don't forget what NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah mentioned a few months ago.
I've mentioned this before- Kellen Moore is a rising star and he'll be in the mix for HC gigs (CFB or NFL) in the near future. https://t.co/hLjOb4HAUc
With a great group of talent at his disposal, it's fair to imagine Moore having a pretty successful "rookie" season at a major coaching position. If he indeed manages to turn heads with the Dallas Cowboys offense in 2019, what does that mean for his future?
In a league that's turning to the young offensive-minded coaches thanks to guys like Sean McVay, is it possible one team decides to pull the trigger and make him an offer for a head coaching gig? It certainly would seem premature, but it's still a possibility in the NFL, where teams have become increasingly impatient with their coaches.
I definitely wouldn't be surprised if next offseason, we're concerned about another team (college or NFL) trying to snatch Moore off the Cowboys. I insist in pointing out this would be a premature decision if it does happen, since Moore has very little experience, but looking at the trend in the NFL it certainly could happen.
This might be the most important year in Kellen Moore's young career. For now, let's hope he does a good job leading Dak Prescott in his fourth year as a professional player and an offense that has a solid OL and a pretty good set of skill players.
Connor Williams Working as Left Tackle in Cowboys Practice
Second-year guard Connor Williams has been working as the Cowboys' left tackle during practice this week. While this isn't the plan for him in 2019, it does provide a glimpse into potential uses for Williams down the road and how Dallas might handle future offensive line moves.
Using Connor at LT this week has been a matter of necessity. The top players on that depth chart, Tyron Smith and Cameron Fleming, were not participating for other reasons.
With Tyron Smith getting a vet day and Cam Fleming not practicing because of a bruised shin, Connor Williams worked at left tackle Wednesday. He said it was his first left tackle snaps since he was at Texas. He said it felt like riding a bike after a little bit.
Indeed, Williams spent three years at left tackle in college. It was the last position he'd played before being drafted in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft by Dallas, who immediately moved him to guard.
Connor started 10 of 13 games at guard last season. He played mostly on the left side, starting Weeks 1-9, before getting injured. Xavier Su'a-Filo played well enough in his absence that Williams didn't get the starting job back when he was healthy. However, when Zack Martin had to miss a few games at the end of the year, Connor started a right guard for those two weeks.
When Martin returned for the playoffs, Williams was back as the starting left guard in both postseason games.
Tyron Smith and Cam Fleming will be your starter and backup at left tackle next year. But for 2020 and beyond, Connor Williams' ability to play tackle creates some interesting possibilities.
La'el Collins will be an unrestricted free agent next year. Fleming will still have one year left on his deal and Dallas just spent a third-round pick on the versatile Connor McGovern. Throw in that Williams can play some tackle, and it seems as if they're covering bases for Collins eventual departure.
We could very well see a starting lineup in 2020 with McGovern at LG and Williams at RT. Another possibility is that Fleming starts at RT and Williams stays at guard, but can be moved to tackle if needed.
If nothing else, it's nice to know that Dallas has options. We may never see Connor Williams play a regular season snap at left tackle, but versatility is a great asset. It can greatly increase a player's value, and give his team some leverage and flexibility in roster management.
For the Cowboys, it does make you wonder what the future holds for the offensive line.
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