Who died? I must have missed the crawler at the bottom of the screen.
Something bad happened, because the dour faces and slumped shoulders of the post-game shows tell me this must be a day of mourning. I feel horrible that I don’t know what I’m supposed to feel horrible about. Please, someone let me in on this because this is incredibly awkward.
Turns out, this isn’t a funeral, but a resurrection. And the anti-Cowboy bloc is none-too-happy about it.
Yep, the Cowboys are the uninvited guests to this 2014 season. Dallas was scripted to be one of the key grips for this year’s cast of contenders, not the starring role it’s shoved teams aside to grab.
And what’s worse for the torch-and-pitchfork mob is the suddenness of it all. The initial impressions of Week 1 offered them hope that this would be a season of guffaws and giggles at Cowboy expense. The drudgery we endured that Opening Day against the 49ers – when Tony Romo stiffly chipped away the preseason rust he didn’t chip away during the preseason – galvanized the vultures circling Dallas from afar. Even the local critics dropped 6-10 and 5-11 bird bombs across the Cowboy windshields.
That Sunday was the welcomed splat heard ‘round the NFL, and the national punditry fist-bumped with glee, belly-laughing at the visiting fan occupations of Cowboys Stadium and celebrating an implosion in the making for that *#@*# “America’s Team”. The fun had begun.
This punctuated an offseason of snarky and smarmy Cowboy hatred. The worst defense in Cowboys history a year ago would be even worse. The coaching moves were signs of desperation. Romo wouldn’t be Romo anymore with that back. Garrett wouldn’t survive the season. Dallas should have taken Manziel. Despite three 8-8 seasons, Dallas plunged in the preseason rankings to 24th or worse across the national landscape. Let the celebratory bonfire begin.
Welp, the cops showed up and busted up their happy party. The ticket violation code reads “6-1”.
Before the unapologetic gloating begins, I must qualify. No, I didn’t see this coming either, not like this. Yours truly had them at 8-8 “until proven otherwise”. They’d be better, I believed, but a gauntlet of a schedule and years of disappointment couldn’t imagine anything like this.
Better because, if for no other reason, there would be legitimate NFL players on the front seven this season, as opposed to the Jiffy Lube part-timers that rolled through here a year ago. Jason Vega, Everette Brown, Corey Irvin, David Carter, Edgar Jones, Drake Nevis…these were the wet-paper soldiers trying to guard the fort last season. They’re gone now, as are underperforming DeMarcus Ware and contract-chasing Jason Hatcher. The craft and scheme of Sir Rod Marinelli could only help.
Make no mistake, it’s not the 6-1 that has the enemies frothing at the mouth. Every year, a team or two tallies early wins almost by accident, as Kansas City did a year ago. Sometimes the breaks don’t even out until much later in the season, one way or the other.
Nope, what’s driving the antagonists and eastern-media elitists bonkers is how Dallas is doing this. This is more than sustainable, and they know it. This is the most convincing brand of football being played in the NFL right now, and they know it. This football plays in the cold and in the rain, and most importantly, in December and beyond, and they know it. This is the style Dallas hasn’t played since your college kid was in diapers.
The Cowboys are manhandling teams up front. Romo has never seen so much zero coverage in his life because the run game is bludgeoning people. That’s allowing for an embarrassment of options in the passing game at Romo’s choosing. Beasley one week, Escobar the next, Williams with generous helpings on a regular occasion. I fully expect Hanna and Harris, maybe even Street, to get a special day in the game plan on a Sunday yet to be played. Of course, Dez and Witten are big every game.
What’s left is an energized defense that still needs honing and improvement. The return of Bruce Carter should help. Perhaps the addition of DeMarcus Lawrence will bring the pass rush he was drafted for. And the extra strength and size of Josh Brent should help shore up the middle against physical run teams. Got to trust in Marinelli, which by now, we most certainly do.
The comeback against St. Louis was appetizing. The thrashing of New Orleans opened our eyes and had us looking at each other. But that utter domination of Seattle in that pressure cooker is what got us digging the pom poms out of the attic and painting our faces again. Some are trying to downplay that win now after Seattle’s slump, but they fail to mention the whooping the Seahawks put on Denver and Green Bay this season.
Like any team, a serious injury to the QB, and it’s over. A rash of boo-boos like a year ago to the defense, and it’s back to Scotch tape and Elmer’s glue. It’s no different for Romo here than it is for Rodgers in Green Bay, Peyton in Denver, Rivers in San Diego, or Brees in New Orleans. Attrition and good football don’t mix, never have and never will, especially at quarterback.
But that’s a catastrophe for another day that hopefully never comes. The Dallas Cowboys are the best team in the NFL today. Sorry, Broncos, I saw you get beaten like mules against Seattle, again.
Stop. Look around. Smell it, and take in the view. Ain’t none of us imagined this.
5 Dallas Cowboys Make 2019 Pro Bowl Roster
The Dallas Cowboys will be well represented in the 2019 Pro Bowl. Last night, five players were named to the NFC roster: RB Ezekiel Elliott, OT Tyron Smith, G Zack Martin, DE DeMarcus Lawrence, and CB Byron Jones.
Dallas tied the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints for the most players to the NFC team. However, the Los Angeles Chargers led all teams with seven players making the AFC squad. The Chiefs and Steelers had six players each.
Congratulations to #DallasCowboys @Byron31Jump, Tyron Smith, @TankLawrence, @thegob70 and @EzekielElliott who are #ProBowl Bound!
Byron Jones is the only first-time Pro Bowler among the Cowboys. He's been one of the best cornerbacks in football this year, switching back to the position after a few years playing safety.
This will be the second-straight Pro Bowl for DeMarcus Lawrence, who remains among the league's most feared pass rushers. It's also the second trip for Ezekiel Elliott, who went as a rookie but missed last year's game with his suspension issues.
Pro Bowl fixtures Tyron Smith and Zack Martin return for the sixth and fifth-straight years, respectively. For Martin, it preserves his streak of making the team every year since he came into the NFL.
Even with these five players being named, you could argue that Dallas deserved a couple more. Rookie LB Leighton Vander Esch has been one of the top defensive players in the league this year. And WR Amari Cooper, once he got to Dallas, has been as productive as any receiver in football.
That aside, congratulations to Zeke, Tyron, Zack, Tank, and Byron for making this year's team!
Should Cowboys Claim WR Pharoh Cooper Off Waivers?
In a somewhat surprising move the Los Angeles Rams have decided to part ways with Pharoh Cooper, who not only made the Pro Bowl last year in 2017, but was also a First-Team All-Pro as a return specialist.
The Rams have waived kick returner Pharoh Cooper. He was named a first team All Pro in 2017 after ranking second in the league in kickoff return and punt return average.
Pharoh Cooper is now subject to the waiver wire, meaning anyone of the other 31 teams around the league can put in a claim to acquire his services. If he goes unclaimed however, he will become a free agent and is free to sign with any team of his choosing.
As one of those 31 teams, the Dallas Cowboys could be one of the interested parties in acquiring Cooper's services. After all, adding Amari Cooper worked out pretty well, so why not kick the tires on another Cooper.
With just two regular-season games remaining in 2018, many teams would view bringing aboard Pharoh Cooper as a move with the future in mind. But, with the Cowboys he could literally hit the ground running and contribute right away in one of their weakest areas, as a return specialist.
The Dallas Cowboys are currently deploying Cornerback Jourdan Lewis as their kick returner and Wide Receiver Cole Beasley as their punt returner. Neither is making any kind of impact in the return game, meaning the Cowboys could definitely use an upgrade at both spots and Cooper could be just the man to provide that service.
Like I mentioned earlier, Pharoh Cooper was a Pro Bowl/First-Team All-Pro return man just a season ago. He did most of his damage as a kick returner, averaging 27.4 yards per return. The Cowboys just so happen to fall victim to one of his returns for 66 yards last year. So, they know all too well what he is capable of.
I personally like the idea of the Cowboys bringing in Pharoh Cooper, and not only as a return specialist. After this season their WR depth could be depleted quite a bit. Cooper would provide insurance for depth purposes, even though he hasn't made much of an impact in the passing game yet in his young career.
Now, I have no idea whether or not the Cowboys will show any interest or put in a waiver claim for the former Pro Bowl return man, but it sounds like a good idea to me. I guess we'll just have to wait and see if another Cooper somehow makes his way to Dallas.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys should put in a waiver claim for Pharoh Cooper?
Takeaway Tuesday: Scott Linehan’s Job Shouldn’t Be Safe
The Dallas Cowboys didn't look like they did during their five game winning streak when they entered Lucas Oil Stadium to face a hot Indianapolis Colts team. In fact, they had one of their poorest showings of all season, failing to score a single point all game. Heading home after being shutout 23-0, there isn't much to be said about the Cowboys' performance.
Here's this week's Takeaway Tuesday. This time, instead of talking about many takeaways, I needed to get one big takeaway off my chest. I hope you enjoy. Make sure to let me know how you feel about this topic in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL.
Scott Linehan's Job Shouldn't Be Guaranteed Going into the Playoffs
As tough as it is to fire one of your three main coaches when your team is headed into the postseason, the Dallas Cowboys should not rule out moving on from Scott Linehan. One win away from clinching the NFC East, it's not something you easily pull off but Linehan's play calling has been terrible all year long.
The truth is, despite Dak Prescott's struggles and a disastrous offensive line, the offense shouldn't be as inefficient as it is.
Watching a unit that counts with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Ezekiel Elliott run a screen pass to Allen Hurns on fourth down and 14 was truly a microcosm of what this year has been for the offense.
Despite having a playoff berth practically clinched, the Cowboys should consider a change at offensive coordinator. Even if they don't fire Linehan, it's clear his play-calling is not good and could cost this team a real opportunity at a legit shot in the postseason. It would be an aggressive measure, without a doubt. The Minnesota Vikings did something similar by firing John DeFillippo a week ago. Based on their 41-17 win over the Miami Dolphins last Sunday, being aggressive sometimes pays.
The Cowboys have arguably the best running back in the NFL in Ezekiel Elliott and yet they continue to misuse him. Whether it's turning their backs on their star tailback or over-using him, this offense has a hard time reaching balance. Dak Prescott's strengths could be exploited even more, but this OC refuses to do so.
As hard as it is to make a drastic change in coaching two weeks before the regular season ends, it truly could end up being a great move by the front office. Sure, Amari Cooper has had monster games since joining the Cowboys, but he could be even more dangerous under another coach.
Cowboys versus Colts was a coaching battle between Scott Linehan and former Dallas Cowboys LB coach, Matt Eberflus. It was the matchup of the week, and one we expected to be fun. Instead, we saw one side completely dominate the other. In the NFL, coaching matters. Probably even more than talent on a roster.
The biggest problem would be, who'd take over play-calling?
Since there isn't a promising candidate within the team, the team's only option would probably be letting HC Jason Garrett take over. It may not be ideal, but it could end up being an improvement over Linehan. Of course, it could also let the front office see what Garrett has to offer as a play caller and consider that when deciding how this coaching staff will look like in 2019.
It's unlikely that we see such a thing occur for the Cowboys, but if the offense has another letdown game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I don't see how the front office doesn't at least consider this. They should.
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