Merry Christmas Cowboys Nation!
I hope each and everyone of you are able to spend this wonderful holiday with your loved ones. I think it's important to remember what this holiday is truly about, but no matter how you decide to celebrate today I hope and pray it reminds you of what you have to be thankful for in your life.
Today, I want to share with you what I believe the Dallas Cowboys received for Christmas this year. I believe their gifts have been unwrapped for a while now, but Christmas is a time of remembrance after all. Below are the gifts I believe the Cowboys are thankful for today.
Bringing Kris Richard aboard in the offseason might've been the Dallas Cowboys best gift of all in 2018. His contagious attitude and aggression has turned this year's Cowboys defense into one of the best in the league and has made this season that much more fun to watch.
Richard's coaching future in the NFL looks to be ascending, which could make him a hot name as a head coach candidate after the completion of this year. Hopefully the Cowboys can find some way to convince him to stick around, because that would be a gift that keeps on giving.
Regardless, Kris Richard is without a doubt one of the best things that have happened to the Cowboys this season and something we should all be thankful for today.
LB, Leighton Vander Esch
When Leighton Vander Esch was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys earlier this year it left many of us a little disappointed. There were several other players who had had more collegiate success than the linebacker out of Boise State, but the Cowboys had their sights set on him the entire time. Thankfully they were right.
Vander Esch has been an absolute stud this year and is playing like not only one of the best rookie linebackers in the league, but one of the best LBs period. No one could've ever imagined am having this kind of success this season, so he is definitely something be thankful for this Christmas.
With Vander Esch, the Cowboys may have one of the best LB duos in the league when paired with Jaylon Smith and they should be cornerstones for the defense for years to come. It's going to be really fun to watch them play together for the next decade or so.
DT, Antwaun Woods
Antwaun Woods, a Christmas gift? You may or may not agree with me on this one, but Woods' addition to the Dallas Cowboys defensive line this season has really solidified the middle of their defense. It's funny though, because castoffs aren't usually considered to gifts.
Antwaun Woods was signed by the Cowboys as a free agent after being released by the Tennessee Titans earlier this offseason. Nobody really expected much from him, but he's turned into one of the more pleasant surprises this year. He not only made the 53-man roster out of training camp, but earned the starting job at the nose tackle or 1-technique.
Woods has made plays all over the field for the Cowboys and has accumulated a total of 32 tackles and one and a half half quarterback sacks so far this year. He has been a gift to this defense and has far exceeded any expectations anyone possibly could have had for him.
WR, Amari Cooper
How can I identify Christmas gifts for the Dallas Cowboys this season and not mention the acquisition of Wide Receiver Amari Cooper? It would probably be a tossup between Cooper and Kris Richard's as to which one was the best gift for the Cowboys this year.
Amari Cooper's arrival in Dallas really turned things around when it was looking as if the season was all but over. He immediately clicked with Quarterback Dak Prescott and took the Cowboys passing game to an entirely different level.
Cooper has been one of the best receivers in the NFL since arriving in Dallas and will hopefully be around for several years to come. He has been worth every bit of the first-round draft pick it took to acquire him from the Oakland Raiders and we should be hearing a lot more of the COOOOP cheers from Cowboys fans.
NFC East Division Title
The last gift the Dallas Cowboys received in 2018 was just a few days before Christmas. With the win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Cowboys were able to clinch the NFC East division and claim the division crown for the third time in five years.
It definitely wasn't pretty getting to this point, but the Cowboys did what they needed to do in order to win the NFC East. There were quite a few bumps and bruises along the way, which is a bit of an understatement when thinking back on their season right now. But in the end, they are in the playoffs and have just as much a chance as anyone else at reaching the Super Bowl.
This could be the best Christmas present of all for the Dallas Cowboys. With this, they may be able to add to the gift with a little more jewelry if things play out just right.
What would you say the Dallas Cowboys received for Christmas?
DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line
The Cowboys got off to a busy start to week two of free agency on Monday, and capped it off by signing defensive lineman Kerry Hyder to a one year deal.
The former Detroit Lion could be classified as a "one year wonder" of sorts, but when you look closer at his career arc, you see that Hyder can provide upside at multiple positions across the Cowboys' defensive front.
After having 8 sacks and 19 quarterback hits as a defensive end in 2016, Hyder missed all of 2017 with an achilles injury. Last season, under new head coach Matt Patricia, Hyder was moved out of position and forced to play as a nose tackle and 5-technique more often.
So, the last time Hyder was healthy and playing in the role in he will likely fill in Dallas, he was productive. Yes that was a couple of seasons ago but it makes Hyder worth the one year deal he received from the Cowboys.
What exactly is that role, though?
I see Hyder primarily as a rotational 3-technique for the Cowboys. At just 270 pounds Hyder isn't going to play over the center often, and won't be very useful as a 1-technique against the run. He's at his best when lining on the outside shade of an offensive lineman, where he can use his get-off and quickness to create pressure.
Kerry Hyder can also fill in at defensive end if needed, especially when the Cowboys go into a nickel package. Hyder is similar to Tyrone Crawford in his ability to move inside and out, but is a bit better of a pass rusher than Crawford when at his best.
Hyder is a high energy, motor, and character defensive lineman who will fit right in with a Rod Marinelli unit. If it all clicks for Hyder and he regains his 2016 form, the Cowboys will have stolen an impressive pass rushing defensive lineman who can win from multiple positions.
If Hyder is actually a "one year wonder" who is more of his 2018-self with the Cowboys despite being put in a better role to succeed, Dallas can move on rather quickly because he is only on a one year deal.
This is a smart signing by the Cowboys front office as they look to re-tool their defensive line, and avoid being pigeon-holed into over-drafting at a certain position this Spring.
New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF
On Tuesday this week it became official the Cowboys would sign former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb to a one year deal worth an estimated $5 million. After his visit Monday morning, speculation around whether and when he would sign was swirling.
Cobb confirmed his intentions to join the Cowboys himself, and did so with some A+ GIF usage on Twitter.
In case you don't know, the GIF Cobb tweeted is Woody from Toy Story, emerging confidently and tipping his cap.
This was Cobb signaling that he his a Cowboy, and he appears excited to be joining America's Team. Cobb also received some social media love from his now former teammates in Green Bay, including wide receiver Davante Adams and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Aaron Rodgers had some parting words for new Cowboys WR Randall Cobb
Clearly Randall Cobb made an impact in Green Bay, both on and off the field. Let's hope he can replicate some of that in Dallas now that he has joined the Cowboys.
Malik McDowell Is Well Worth The Risk For The Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly brining defensive lineman Malik McDowell into The Star this week for a visit, as they decide whether or not to potentially sign him for the 2019 season.
McDowell is a former second round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, who fell to day two because of what scouts call "off the field" or "character" concerns. McDowell did not last long with Seahawks, as he was released in 2017 following an ATV accident in which he reportedly suffered "extensive brain and eye trauma" according to Charles Robinson.
None of us know much about who Malik McDowell is as a person, or what concerns their really should be with his health. But what I do know is that on tape at Michigan State, McDowell was a top 5-10 player in the 2017 draft class. He was a stud, and has the traits to continue to be a stud in the NFL.
The 2017 NFL Draft is chock full of talented, athletic, and productive defensive linemen. While most of the draft pundits have focused on EDGE rushers thus far, the defensive tackle class also possesses some of this year's top NFL prospects. Arguably the best of those defensive tackles is Michigan State's Malik McDowell.
Back in 2017 I wrote a full scouting report on McDowell, detailing why he earned such a high grade on my board. McDowell is a versatile linemen who is explosive off the ball, powerful and rangy against the run, and a skilled pass rusher who plays with a high motor. What more could you really ask for?
"McDowell is a patient pass rusher at times, setting up the blocker how he likes and then beating them with ease. McDowell’s ability to swipe hands off helps him greatly, but his quick swim is his most effective pass rush move.
On this play he uses that swim to perfection, forcing the center to power down to the right before swimming back to the other side."
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
When the Spartans went to a three man pass rushing front, McDowell moved to the EDGE often and made plays with his quick, active hands and impressive swim move. He was much more impressive on the interior, however, and could be a direct replacement for David Irving as an explosive and powerful 3-technique for the Cowboys.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
I love that the Cowboys are bringing McDowell in for a free agent visit. His price will likely be low, as he is yet to play in an NFL game over the last two years, but his ceiling remains very high if he is healthy. It's rare for a player with his college production, natural ability, and measurables to completely fail in the NFL.
Maybe all McDowell needs is a second chance to get his head right and prove that he belongs in the league. Maybe he flames out quickly and can't get on the field due to "off the field" stuff. Or, maybe he simply isn't healthy enough to contribute as an NFL player. Regardless, for the price he'll likely command, McDowell is well worth the risk if the Cowboys are willing to take it.
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