Happy day after Valentine's Day!
The candy and balloons are on sale at every store in town, and florists everywhere are beginning life in the aftermath of the busiest day of their year.
The stereotypical V-Day involves sweethearts everywhere showering each other with love and affection, but what about the people without sweethearts? Sure you can toss on Beyonce's "Single Ladies" or go watch the new movie "How to Be Single" (which was conveniently released last Friday), but pizza sounds so much better than both of those things.
The truth about Valentine's Day is that for every sappy love act there's an equal amount of heartbreak. For example... when I was in high school I took a girl out on Valentine's Day. I thought it'd be fun to have a date for the national day of love. Well if it isn't obvious I'm incredibly passionate about the Dallas Cowboys... so I spent some time discussing them during our date. Well would you believe that she went and told everyone at school while making fun of me?! I love the Cowboys, she didn't, needless to say it didn't last long for her in my book.
I'm not alone in my love for America's Team - you love them, too. We love them no matter what but, just like Valentine's Day, there's some heartbreak that comes along with that. Here are the Dallas Cowboys who broke our hearts during the 2015 season.
When Dez Bryant went down with a foot injury during the season opener we all knew that someone had to step up. Jason Witten caught the game-winning touchdown and that was great, but when we found out Dez would be out for a few weeks we knew that our #2 guy (Terrance Williams) would have to carry the load.
"Terrance is awesome. He's got this." Raise your hand if you said that at that moment.
WHOA OK I DIDN'T EXPECT TO SEE SO MANY HANDS PUT THEM DOWN NOW!
We all thought that Terrance would fill the Dez gap in heroically, but he broke our hearts and he broke them good. In the five games that Dez was gone Terrance totaled 13 catches for 233 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Just to put that in perspective consider that on December 23rd, 2012 Dez caught 9 passes for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns. In one day.
Even when Dez returned Terrance failed to do anything amazing. He did score against the Dolphins in Tony Romo's return, but that was it for 2015 in terms of him finding the paint. The trademark Terrance Williams who had a way of showing up in big games was absent all season long, and it was so heartbreaking that the second receiver position is a real need this offseason as a result.
He may have been a bit of a rebound from Dez Bryant, but Terrance broke our heart. He was our safe play and he blew it.
We trusted you, Terrance!
I took Geometry in the 8th grade.
It's been some time since I've dealt with isosceles or equilateral triangles. If you wanted me to calculate the surface area of something I might have to google how. Needless to say my memory on the subject is covered in dust.
All that considered... I'd bet that I might have a better understanding of angles than JJ Wilcox.
JJ is a player that many Cowboys Nation loyalists have been rooting for since he was drafted in 2013, but he has continued to break their hearts.
Wilcox is that heartbreaker who you just can't say no to. You know he's going to leave you hanging, but you believe him anyway. It's a fact that he's going to disappoint you, but you believe him in anyway.
Our hearts have been broken for the last time by you, JJ.
The Cowboys were so fed up with JJ that they benched him during the season for rookie standout Byron Jones. Ah... our knight in shining armor! Byron is the guy who was there all along for the girl that she finally gets with at the end of the movie.
The movie is over for JJ Wilcox. No chocolate hearts for you!
This is a different type of heartbreaker.
Rolando McClain is an outstanding football player when he wants to be, but the thing is that he's not always in the mood to be one.
McClain filled in a desperate need at the linebacker spot during the 2014 season when the Cowboys were without the services of Sean Lee for the whole season. Many thought that with Lee returning the Cowboys would have one of the better linebacker duos across the NFL.
The season started off rough for Rolando when he was suspended for its first four games thanks to a violation of the league's policy on substance abuse. It was another notch in McClain's belt of miscues across his young career and left Cowboys Nation wondering why they'd continually put up with someone who so often compromises the team's chances.
This is the heartbreaker who you just want to fix. You know there's a good person in there, they just refuse to bring it out. Sad face for you, Rolando.
Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick
The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.
Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:
Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back. https://t.co/hCMYoE8fEh
Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.
Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.
The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.
For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!
DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class
Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.
Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.
One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring.
ESPN.com ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.
ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures. https://t.co/aJ7H1n001t
DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.
Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.
Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.
When it Mattered Most, Cowboys Offensive Line Protected Dak Prescott
Throughout the 2018 NFL season, one of the major story lines surrounding the Dallas Cowboys was how frequently Dak Prescott was taking sacks. It's an area that the Cowboys will have to look at in the offseason to better protect their franchise quarterback moving forward. In the playoffs, however, Dak Prescott and the offensive line were much better at keeping their prized possession upright than they were in the regular season.
In the regular season, Dak Prescott was sacked 56 times for an average of 3.5 times a game. There was only one game where he wasn't sacked at all, way back in week two against the New York Giants. Four times this season, the Cowboys' quarterback was sacked five or more times. The New Orleans Saints got him for a season high seven times.
According to Pro Football Focus, Dak was "kept clean" -- not pressured -- on 63% of his drop backs during the regular season, which ranked 25th in the NFL. When kept clean, Prescott completed 74.1% of his passes, which was good for 5th in the NFL during the regular season. He was under pressure 37% of the time, which was the sixth highest rate in the NFL and his completion percentage dropped to 52.6%, still good for 10th in the NFL. It was better than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Baker Mayfield.
During the playoffs, Prescott's "kept clean" percentage rose from 63% to 68% and he was only sacked once in each game. The one sack against the Los Angeles Rams probably shouldn't have been called a sack as the referee blew the whistle because Prescott was "in the grasp"...
...of his offensive lineman.
During the playoffs, the Cowboys offensive line kept the pressure off of Prescott at a better rate, allowing him to be pressured on only 31.9% of his drop backs. Meaning he was kept clean at an improved rate from the regular season at 68.1% of his drop backs. This while playing against two teams that are really good at rushing the passer. The Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks both finished in the top half of the league in sacks this season and feature players like Aaron Donald, Jarran Reed, and Frank Clark who all had double-digit sacks.
As we know, pressure rates and sacks aren't all completely on the offensive line. The quarterback, wide receivers, and the play calling all factor in, but the Cowboys are trending in the right direction with their pass protection. A full offseason for Connor Williams in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program, better health for Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and -- fingers crossed -- Travis Frederick, should all help the offensive line play at a higher level heading into the 2019 season.
It can't be overstated how important it will be to get Travis Frederick back into the fold this season. Joe Looney was good, and that might be overstating it a bit. He was not noticeable on most plays during the season, but getting your All-Pro center back will tremendously help the offense in every facet of the game. Frederick's one of the smarter players in the NFL, who helps everyone on the offense to see the blitzes and calls out the protections. Both his mental and physical ability will be a welcomed site when the Cowboys begin practicing in the offseason.
With another year of growth for the quarterback and for the young pieces along the offensive line, and with a full offseason for Dak Prescott to grow with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Blake Jarwin, the Cowboys should be better next season at keeping the quarterback clean.
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