Let's turn the clock back a bit, shall we? Critics love to say that Dallas Cowboys fans live in the past, and for the purposes of this exercise we're going to a bit. We're firing the 'ol DeLorean up to 88mph in order to re-visit the 2016 season (it was a fun one, wouldn't you say?). What we're looking at specifically is where the Cowboys landed each week on NFL.com's Power Rankings... the results will interest you.
NFL.com's weekly power rankings are written by Elliot Harrison, a Dallas native and Cowboys Historian, and I'll attest to the list's quality. Elliot is a fantastic NFL writer and he's usually very fair to the Cowboys (not to mention he was one of the OG National Romo Defenders).
As you can see the Cowboys sat at 16th right after their Draft. Of course it was that very Draft that would significantly boost the quality of America's Team last season, but that was unforeseen by literally everyone in the NFL.
The Lowest Point On The Season
Amazingly the lowest status that the Dallas Cowboys reached in these Power Rankings was the 19th spot. This is considering that the Cowboys were down Tony Romo - at that point their unquestioned savior - and had just lost to the New York Giants (remember when Terrance Williams didn't get out of bounds?).
Dez Bryant clearly telling Terrance Williams to get out of bounds. Wow.
#19 isn't terrible relatively speaking. Considering that the whole world got to see what the Dallas Cowboys were without Tony Romo just a season prior, the fact that Dallas was still considered a Top 20 team was an achievement that's something to be proud of. Fortunately for all of us things got going quickly and the Cowboys rose, rose, and rose.
The Cowboys Soar To The Top
The question "when did Dak Prescott really and truly earn the job of starting quarterback?" is one that is fascinating to debate. Some would say it's a collection of games, some would say the Overtime win at home against Philadelphia, and others would say it was the big road win at Lambeau Field.
It was indeed that victory in Green Bay that catapulted the Cowboys in these Power Rankings. Prior to that the Cowboys were 8th and jumped all the way up to 3rd, the Cowboys wouldn't leave the Top 3 for the rest of the regular season.
After that Eagles win on Halloween's eve, the Cowboys actually climbed all the way up to 2nd! They would never fall below #2 for the remainder of the season, but they would rise for a bit.
America's Team Takes The Throne
The Cowboys maintained Elliot Harrison's top spot in his weekly power rankings on NFL.com for four weeks (shout out to #4 Dak Prescott!). They originally took the throne after what many would say was their biggest win of the season, an incredible clash of the NFL's finest franchises when Dallas outlasted the Steelers in Pittsburgh on November 13th.
The Kool-Aid at #1 stayed blue and silver for a long and glorious month as the Cowboys ripped off victories against the Baltimore Ravens, Washington Redskins, and in Minnesota against the Vikings. It took a road loss in New York in frigid conditions against a stifling defense for the Cowboys to fall down a spot and see the eventual Super Bowl LI Champion New England Patriots take the spot back.
Dallas was one of just six teams to hold the top spot across the season, and they held it for the second-longest amount of time. It's tough to argue that that specific stretch of time was when they were at their most dominant, and unfortunately it all ended for good about a month after that New York Giants loss.
Where will the Cowboys land on next season's week-to-week Power Rankings? We're all going to have to wait to find out!
Kicker Matt Bryant Should Be the Final Piece of Cowboys 2019 Offseason
The draft is done, DeMarcus Lawrence is re-signed, and the bulk of free agency activity has passed. The 2019 Dallas Cowboys have more than enough talent to compete this season, but there is still one last move I'd wish they'd make. Veteran kicker Matt Bryant, still one of the NFL's best even at almost 44 years old, could be the final piece to this offseason puzzle.
The Atlanta Falcons' longtime kicker, and franchise scoring leader, was not retained this year despite another standout season. He made 20-of-21 field goals, with a long of 57, in 2018.
Why Atlanta didn't keep Bryant hasn't been confirmed, but perhaps the team was just looking to avoid hanging on one year to late. But Matt, who ranks eight all-time in FG accuracy (86.2%), doesn't think he's done. He tweeted the following from his personal account in February:
"Over this past year I’ve been asked numerous times about retirement and how I feel. Well, I’m not retiring and I feel fine and plan on feeling even better with some changes to my offseason program!
As of now Matt Bryant remains a free agent, and I think the Dallas Cowboys should be very interested.
If you go up and down this Dallas roster, kicker is arguably its biggest liability. Brett Maher had some highlight moments in 2018, and won two Player of the Week awards, but he also was one of the league's worst kickers in overall FG accuracy.
The problem with Maher is that you can't teach his best skill; the accuracy from the high 50s and even low 60s is incredible. It's a true weapon that you have a hard time letting go of, which was evident last year when Dallas dumped Dan Bailey for Maher at final cuts.
But Matt Bryant might be the best of both worlds. He's been a 91% FG kicker overall this last three years and has made 18-of-22 attempts from 50 yards out or more.
Maher only made 80.6% of his kicks in 2018. He went from 6/7 from long range, but that tells you how shaky he was from closer in.
Those closer kicks are worth the same three points that the longer ones are, and how'd you like it if Dallas lost a critical game because their kicker couldn't make a 35-yarder?
I get the fear factor with an older guy like Matt Bryant. Heck, the Cowboys let Dan Bailey go when he was still just 30. But Bryant hasn't shown the red flags that Bailey did; he's still kicking as well as he ever has.
If nothing else, Dallas has the cap space and circumstances to bring in Bryant for a true competition with Maher. If Brett has improved his game and keeps his job, then that's awesome. But why not add some pressure now, though a position battle with one of the all-time greats, and see what Maher's really made of?
Seasons have been made, and shattered, by one kick. Unless the Cowboys have good reason for confidence in Brett Maher's development from last year, they could be carrying a significant liability into a year where they're trying to push for a Super Bowl.
If Matt Bryant could provide even a small amount of additional security, isn't he worth it?
Cowboys RB Mike Weber’s Injury Scare Continues Concerning Trend
Rookie RB Mike Weber had a brief scare earlier this week with a knee injury in practice, but thankfully the MRI came back with a good report. However, as he fights to have a future with the Dallas Cowboys, this health incident is a concerning reminder of Weber's recent history.
One reason that Weber fell to the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft was due to battling injuries during his last two years at Ohio State. He lost his starting job in 2017 due to ongoing hamstring issues and also had to miss time last year because of a foot strain.
Carrying the load for the Buckeyes is a far different workload than being second or third on the Cowboys' RB depth chart. But this latest scare happened in early May, just two weeks after Mike joined the team and well before the more strenuous activities of an NFL offseason.
A practice injury can cost you just as badly as one that happens in a game. And with Dallas already thin at RB, it could leave them severely shorthanded if it occurs during the regular season.
Many have projected that the Cowboys' RB group in 2019 would have Ezekiel Elliott as the obvious starter and then rookies Weber and Tony Pollard behind him. While Pollard was drafted three rounds ahead of Weber, he's not built to take a large number of carries if Zeke were to go out.
If Mike Weber does make the team, he would be expected to take a sizable role if something bad happen with Elliott.
The "injury prone" label is disastrous for any athlete, but especially a guy with no real claim to a roster spot. If Weber causes concern in the front office about his durability, they may go a different way at final cuts.
Remember, Mike's not just up against Pollard and Darius Jackson for a roster spot. There are still plenty of veteran free agent running backs out there that Dallas could turn to if they're not confident about their young prospects.
This isn't too say that one scary moment in May, which ultimately didn't amount to much, is reason to cut bait with Mike Weber. But when you stack it up with his injury history in college, it does make you wonder how he'll do over the course of an entire NFL season.
Hopefully, Weber bounces back from this and has a great summer. Former Buckeye RBs have treated Dallas well the last few years, and it'd be fantastic if Mike can provide the same solid solid depth that Rod Smith did.
But this latest news is just a reminder of why Dallas can't rest easy at running back just yet, and why they may still have another move to make to prepare for 2019.
Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith Graduating From Notre Dame
The 2019 season is right around the corner for the Dallas Cowboys, with OTA's and training camp getting ready to kickoff in the coming weeks/months.
Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith made the most of his offseason, going back to Notre Dame to finish out his college degree. Smith is set to graduate from Notre Dame this Saturday, and will walk to earn his degree in Film & Television.
Smith talked to DallasCowboys.com's David Helman about why it was so important for him to graduate and finish what he started at Notre Dame.
“When I left after my junior year, I promised my mom that I would go back and finish...Finishing my third year with the Cowboys, it was time.” - Jaylon Smith
2,025 @NotreDame undergraduates will receive degrees during Commencement Weekend. That contingent includes @thejaylonsmith Yes, the current @dallascowboys & former @NDFootball All-American linebacker, who took 21 credits this spring #4for40 #GraduatingChampions #CEV
Smith continues his leadership on and off the field, and we all send our congratulations to the Cowboys starting MIKE linebacker!
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