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Uninvited contenders; Cowboys making waves at 6-1

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Cowboys Blog - Uninvited contenders; Cowboys making waves at 6-1

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.



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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys Head Toward NFL Draft with No Glaring Needs

John Williams

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Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten Retiring, Joining MNF Broadcast Booth

When the offseason began after the Dallas Cowboys fell to the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round of the playoffs, it was clear that they were a team on the rise, but had several areas they needed to address as free agency and the draft approached.

The team had holes or depth issues at safety, defensive tackle, swing tackle, wide receiver, defensive end, and tight end. Through the first two weeks of free agency, the Dallas Cowboys have taken care of each of those areas.

With the signings of George Iloka, Christian Covington, Cameron Fleming, Randall Cobb, Tavon Austin, Kerry Hyder, and Jason Witten, The Dallas Cowboys have set themselves up to approach the draft with “clear eyes and a full heart.”

As they head into April with the NFL Draft looming, the Cowboys won’t be held back by positional need and can allow their draft board to do the work for them and just add good players. It’s an excellent position to be in as they don’t have to reach for a player at a position of need they may not like as much because they have a veteran presence filling that need.

Backup running back appears to be the only position where the Cowboys could use some depth, but that player for this team is more of a special teams player who gets limited snaps on offense because of the greatness of Ezekiel Elliott. It’s generally a position where there is a lot of talent deep in the draft and undrafted free agent pool, which allows the Cowboys to be patient filling that need behind the NFL’s leading rusher.

Mother than that, if the Dallas Cowboys has to go play a football game and win today, they’d be in great shape to do so.

On the flip side, however, the Cowboys can still add players at defensive tackle, wide receiver, tight end, safety, and defensive end because they aren’t restricted by big contracts to those veteran players. Each of them came to the Cowboys on one-year deals. The veterans that they signed would prohibit them from drafting at that same position, and that’s the point.

The Cowboys have created a formula that works really well for them. Sometimes it get frustrating watching the team not make any big splashes in free agency, especially that first week when other teams are bringing in big-name players to add to their rosters. That formula has led them to a 48-32 record over the last five seasons with three NFC East titles, and two playoff wins, and three divisional round appearances.

And the playoff runs could have been deeper with a bit of luck and correct officiating.

The Dallas Cowboys have set themselves up really well as they now set their sights on the NFL Draft at the end of April. Though they won’t have a first round pick to add to their talent pool, the Cowboys have shown that they can find talent in the second round and beyond. This year will be no different.

Now it’s time to sit back and trust the process.



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Have Had Quiet, Yet Successful, Free Agency

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones

Yet another free agency without a big splash by the Dallas Cowboys. What a surprise. Despite entertaining Earl Thomas rumors for a long, long time, the Cowboys' front office has stuck with its philosophy of not overpaying free agents and building the team mainly through the NFL Draft. However, they've actually had some pretty good signings over the last few days that will really benefit the Cowboys when the season comes around.

They've done so with inexpensive free agents who will contribute at a high level on their respective positions. Sure, top free agent signings are fun. But many times, they end up backfiring to teams for spending so much money in one single player. At the end of the day, the Cowboys' way has gotten the team three NFC East Championships since 2014. Many factors come into play, but their team building philosophy can't be as bad as many claim it to be.

George Iloka

The most recent acquisition came in form of former Cincinnati Bengal and Minnesota Viking Safety George Iloka. The Cowboys had a desperate need at the defensive backfield and finally they've done something about it. On a heavy safety market, the Cowboys sat tight while watching the top free agents get top contracts around the league, including Landon Collins' record breaking deal with the Washington Redskins.

Now, they've gotten a guy who can play both safety positions. I'll be surprised if he doesn't take Jeff Heath's job. He's played as a free safety most of his career but being a good tackler, he should do a good job in the box. Iloka will also shine on special teams in Dallas.

So far, my favorite signing may be that of former Green Bay Packer, Randall Cobb. The Cowboys had an important need at the wide receiver position despite counting with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup leading the room. Cole Beasley is a tough guy to replace and although Cobb may not be a better slot receiver than him, he certainly has the experience and the skill set to be a starting slot WR.  What's more, he'll only cost the Cowboys five million while Beasley got a four year deal with which he'll earn $17M over the first two years.

Cowboys en Español: La Afortunada Llegada de Randall Cobb

Cole Beasley will be missed, but the good thing is the front office did a pretty good job at filling the concerning hole on offense. Cooper, Gallup and Cobb are definitely not a bad starting trio to have.

Other under the radar moves will also help the Cowboys. Kerry Hyder may not be a well-known in the NFL but he'll surely contribute to this defensive line as a rotational player. Hyder had eight sacks in 2016 with the Detroit Lions before suffering an Achilles injury in 2017 and dealing with a scheme change last season. Hyder will surely be happy about being back to a 4-3 defense in Dallas.

Christian Covington was another overlooked signing. Covington will help on the interior of the defensive line and although he'll likely not be a starter, he'll be an important piece in the rotation for a very reasonable contract ( also a one-year deal).

For a football team that's constantly criticized for not being active in free agency, the Cowboys have done something at pretty much every position where they need help. Safety, defensive end, defensive tackle, wide receiver and tight end have all been addressed this offseason prior to the NFL Draft. This will give them great flexibility in April and could lead to a pretty good "best player available" strategy.

Now granted, there are still concerns regarding the young "to be extended" group of players. DeMarcus Lawrence hasn't reached an agreement with the Cowboys and will continue to postpone surgery until he does. If the front office doesn't strike a contract with the star pass rusher, it won't be possible to consider this offseason a good one no matter what happens. Dallas can't let him leave.

In the meantime though, they've had a pretty quiet yet successful March. And they're not done yet. Robert Quinn could end up wearing the Star if a trade with the Miami Dolphins does end up taking place. We'll see if the Cowboys continue to build on an already pretty good free agency.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Have Had Quiet, Yet Successful, Free Agency" 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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BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Sign Free Agent Safety George Iloka

Jess Haynie

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George Iloka

The Dallas Cowboys have reached a one-year agreement with Safety George Iloka, according to ESPN's Todd Archer. Iloka spent 2018 with the Vikings after six years with the Bengals.

He's started 79 of his 99 career games since being a fifth-round pick by Cincinnati in 2012. Iloka turns 29 years old next week.

Todd Archer on Twitter

The Cowboys have agreed to a one-year deal with safety George Iloka, according to a source. Iloka met with the Cowboys on Friday and was the third safety to meet with the club during the week along with Clayton Geathers and Eric Berry. The Cowboys have... https://t.co/JB5nJLWepc

This isn't the safety that most Cowboys fans wanted. After over a year of pining for Earl Thomas, sights turned to Eric Berry after his free agent visit in Dallas last week.

However, it makes sense that Iloka would be attractive to the Cowboys. At 6'4" and 225 lbs, he fits the physical mold of what Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard likes in his players. He also is younger than Berry and Thomas without the same recent injury issues.

Iloka becomes one of many Boise St. products on Dallas' roster, joining Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch, and others. He entered the league with college teammates Crawford and Kellen Moore, the Cowboys' new offensive coordinator, in 2012.

We'll have to wait and see how George Iloka fits into the current mix at safety with Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods. He spent most of 2018 as a backup with Minnesota, but Dallas will likely give him a chance to start.



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